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Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.

CHAPTER VII. - THE CHRISTIAN PROGRAM

 

WITH the first advent of Jesus Christ our Lord came the final outburst of prophetic light as yet granted to our world. Through Him personally, and through His Holy Spirit in the apostles, were revealed things to come

 

the closing section of the Divine program of the world?s history as far as it is at present unfolded. What additions may be yet made to it in the ages to come, who shall say? The infinitude and eternity of God forbid the thought that the section we have now to consider is the last in any absolute sense, but it is the last at present published to mankind.

 

Previously to the first century of our era, the voice of prophecy had for four hundred years been perfectly silent, and it has been similarly hushed ever since. The century of the first advent stands thus as the only one in the course of twenty-three hundred years during which the Omniscient condescended to reveal the future, and exhibit His Divine prescience for human consideration in future ages. Prophecy has no more been granted lavishly and at all times than miracle. Both have been restricted to special eras when they were needed to attest Divine intervention in the affairs of the human race, and when they could best subserve their all important ends. These ends are similar in some aspects, different in others. Miracle serves to convince unbelievers, and to confirm faith, in its own age. Prophecy is intended to do the same in distant ages. The one consequently witnesses for God to man at the beginning of great dispensations of providence; the other at the close of such. It is given at the outset, that it may by fulfillment demonstrate its own inspiration of God at the end of the age. The miracles of 1800 years ago have so far lost their force in our days that their very occurrence is doubted and denied. But the power of fulfilled prophecy, to prove the existence and the providential government of God, only increases as time passes on, and will increase until the next great climax in the history of our race. It is the peculiar witness in the last days, and by neglecting it the Church deprives herself of the help of the most effective weapon in her armoury for the combat with modern unbelief. If Jesus Christ revealed the future well-nigh two thousand years ago, and if intervening ages have fulfilled every one of His predictions, and can be shown to have done so, what shall we say? what shall we think? Shall we lightly esteem His mission? Shall we give no heed to His message from God? Shall we dare to despise His warnings? Shall we argue that, though He foretold a hundred events, and ninety-five of them have come true, we need not anticipate the fulfillment of the remaining five? Or shall we bow the head and worship, and believe with the heart His every word?

 

The fact that we have 1800 years of authentic and detailed history with which to compare and by which to test the New Testament prophecies gives them a special evidential value.

 

There can be no question as to the date of these predictions. Sceptics may raise a cloud of dust about the date of Daniel, though their desperate efforts to assign it an epoch late enough to deprive it of its conspicuously prophetic character fail to conceal its true origin, but they cannot do the same about the New Testament. It was not concocted and published in modern times, or even in the middle ages. Abundant writings still extant of the first and second centuries attest that it was already in wide circulation in Asia, Africa, and even Europe, and that is enough for our argument. We need not pause to settle the exact date of each Gospel, nor of each of the letters of the Apostle Paul. We know that even the Apocalypse of St. Johnwhich was published long after all the rest of the New Testament dates from the close of the first century, and that therefore, in considering the final section of our program, we may be confident that it was published to the world 1800 years ago, the bulk of it between AD. 38 and A.D. 70, and the last work in A.D. 96 or 97. If we can prove the fulfillment of its predictions, consequently, we have unquestionable evidence of inspiration, and of Divine foreknowledge and providence.

 

No human sagacity could have correctly outlined the history of the eighteen Christian centuries, complicated and marvelous as it has been. Superhuman wisdom prompted the utterances and guided the pens of the prophets of the New Testament as of those of the old. This section of the program is in some senses the most interesting of any to Christian students, as it deals with our own dispensation, predicts our own experiences, and enlarges on our own hopes. It contains, moreover, chronological statements of peculiar interest, as indicating our own position in the stream of time, and our proximity to the end of the present age. Further, it not only sketches the present condition of Christendom, affording as it does so precious practical guidance, but it reaches out into the ages to come far more fully than any previous portion of the program, so that its vistas of glory and joy are calculated to sustain faith and hope in these dark and perilous times of doubt and infidelity.

 

The subject is so rich and full a one that our introductory sketch must be brief, but a few words seem needful to connect this first advent era and Christian outburst of prophetic light with that which occurred in the captivity and restoration era, on which we dwelt in the last chapter.

 

When the Persian monarch Artaxerxes passed away, his commission to Nehemiah had been executed. Jerusalem was once more the defensible capital of a re-constituted state and nation, and the temple was once more the center of the reestablished worship of God. Both the national polity and the national religion were again visible among men, and recognized by neighbouring nations. But the centuries which intervened between the return from Babylon and the advent of Christ were to the restored Jews in Palestine anything but a time of peace or an era of national glory. They were, to some extent, like sheep among wild beasts. Weak, small, and defenceless, they fell successively under the fierce pagan rulers of the second, third, and fourth of the wild-beast Gentile empires which dominated one after the other during the four or five centuries which preceded the advent of Christ.

 

The restored remnant was at first too feeble and too obscure to be of much account among men. The Medo-Persian kings were for the most part kind to the Jews, and even Alexander showed them favour.

 

Judea had been, after the death of Nehemiah, added to the prefecture of Syria, and it ultimately shared in the miserable lot of that province, and became the battlefield of opposing nations. The Jews suffered very severely in the long struggles and incessant warfare which was waged, on the break-up of the Greek empire, between the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. In the second century before Christ especially, they passed through a most bitter experience. Antiochus Epiphanes, the infamous monster whoas is agreed by mostforeshadowed a greater persecutor still, caused them the severest sufferings. At one time he took Jerusalem by storm, slew 40, 000 of the Jews, and sold as many more into slavery, and defiled the temple by offering a sow on the altar, and sprinkling the broth of it all over the sacred enclosures. He tried to compel the nation to abandon the faith of their fathers, and succeeded in inducing many to apostatize. But after the Babylonish captivity Israel dreaded and detested the idolatry to which in earlier ages they had been so prone, and nothing could induce them to comply with the tyrant?s orders. At last, in B.C. 168, he ordered his general, Apollonius, to destroy Jerusalem; and the order was as far as possible carried into execution. The men were put to the sword, and the women and children enslaved. The houses were demolished or fired, and the walls broken down the temple was re-dedicated to Jupiter, and Antiochus erected his statue on the altar of burnt-offering. It was a rehearsal on a small, brief scale of the subsequent doings of the Roman soldiery of Titus. Antiochus subsequently swore that he would destroy the entire nation of the Jews, and make a common cemetery for them at Jerusalem. But God smote him, and he died in torment, like Herod in after-days.

 

In these dark and dreadful times Jewish faith and heroism shone more brightly, perhaps, than at any previous or subsequent period. Had it not done so, Judaism might have become extinct, under the combined influences of persecution from without and apostasy within. But Israel?s great mission was not over then, any more than it is over now. The people were preserved once more. The bush burned with fire, but it was not consumed. When hope itself was almost dead, up rose the Asmonean Mattathias, and his still more illustrious son, Judas Maccabeus, and did exploits for their faith and people. They delivered Israel, cleansed the temple, restored the Divine worship, and ruled as priests and princes in Jerusalem for many generations. The struggle with this fierce storm had strengthened the faith and courage of the Jews, and they clung to their monotheistic creed more firmly than ever.

 

The Asmoneans continued to rule the Jews under the later Syro-Macedonian monarchs until family dissensions arose, and a struggle for power, in which Aristobulus called in the help of the then rapidly rising Romans. Judea soon became tributary to the fourth empire, which was at the time in its full career of conquest, and fast approaching its day of undisputed sway. An Idumean named Antipater was subsequently, by Julius Caesar, made procurator of Judea, and from this man were descended the Herods who ruled the Jews in the days of Christ. An Edomite dynasty would, in any case, have been hateful to the Jews. Its outrageous vices made the Herodian dynasty peculiarly so. But they were powerless to resist the iron will of Rome, though often sorely tempted to revolt; and the Herods, by a cruel tyranny, kept the people down. Never, therefore, was the longing expectation of the advent of Messiah to deliver Israel stronger or more intense than at the time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.

 

It is important, however, to realize that at that time the Jews of Palestine formed only a minority of the Jewish nation. To say nothing of the ten tribes, whose fate and whose locality were more or less unknown, the number of the two tribes which had returned from Babylon to Judea was very small compared with their whole number. This relative proportion continued to exist in the days of our Lord. The home Jews were far less numerous than the foreign Jews, who were known as ?the dispersion.? True, they were no longer scattered as a penal judgment, or by the will and power of Gentile conquerors. They were voluntary exiles, but exiles still, whatever the motive of business or pleasure, policy or interest, which kept them so. Year by year the temple courts were thronged with crowds of foreign JewsJews ?out of every nation under heaven, ? as they were ?when the day of Pentecost was fully come.? A Babel of languages might be heard in the streets of Jerusalem, even as there would be now were Jews from every land to congregate in one city.

 

But, though living among other nations, all these Jews looked to Jerusalem as their center, and felt themselves strangers in the lands where they dwelt. There was an Eastern and a Western dispersion. The Babylonian Jews, and all who dwelt beyond the Euphrates, were much more closely connected with the restored people than were the Western dispersion. From the language which they spoke, they were called Hebrews as much as those who lived in Palestine. They were the ?Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia? mentioned among the crowds gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The Western dispersion included all the rest, the pilgrims from Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cyrene, and Rorpe. Josephus and Philo estimate that millions of Jews belonged to the Eastern dispersion, which was the most influential and wealthy part of the nation. The Persian monarchs had treated the Jews kindly, Alexander the Great had favoured them, the Parthians, who succeeded the Seleucidae in governing those regions, found them so influential that they avoided making enemies of them, and even the Romans in the first century before Christ shrank from provoking their hostility. They were united, though scattered, and had already become a sort of world nation, as they still are. The Calendar of the feasts of the Lord observed by this Eastern dispersion was identical with that of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrim indicating to them by fire signals from mountain top to mountain top the visibility of the new moon. The Babylonian Rabbis were very highly esteemed at Jerusalem. Ezra, Rabbi Hillel, and Rabbi Chija, who all three did good service in restoring the law, were from Babylon. This dispersion extended to the Black Sea, northward to the Caspian, and eastward as far as India. They were intensely Jewish, kept their genealogies with the utmost strictness, and observed the customs of the Talmud as well as the precepts of the law.

 

They must not be confounded with the wanderers of the ten tribes, whose destiny is involved in obscurity, and the only indications of whom from early sources are laid in the countries to the north of India, the Kurdish mountains of Armenia, and the region of the Caucasus. They ceased to be known as Jews at all, with the exception of the comparatively few who settled in Palestine, like the family of Anna, which belonged to the tribe of Asher, and the few who had mingled with the exiles of Babylon, and formed part of that Eastern dispersion which never lost its nationality.

 

It was otherwise, however, with the Grecian, or Western dispersion. This also was very extensiveAsia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Spain, and other lands contained at the time of the first advent very numerous Jewish colonies and scattered residents. They were merchants, traders, doctors, craftsmen, and artisans; and though they were regarded as strangers and foreigners by the heathen, and often hated on account of their peculiar laws and customs, yet their higher religious faith had its influence on the Grecianized world which despised them, and their sacred writings, translated into Greek more than two hundred years before Christ, were widely known and read among philosophers. The Jews, in their turn, felt strongly the effect of the mental atmosphere in which they lived. The Stoic and Epicurean philosophies current in those centuries could not but affect the Jewish mind, with its keen and meditative cast. Their faith as Jews rested on authority, on Divine revelation. But what were the grounds of this authority, what the proofs of this revelation? These questions never troubled the Rabbis of Palestine and the East. But they were rife among the Jews of Alexandria and the Mediterranean. Young Judaism, waking up under the influence of what was to them modern thought, were tempted to compromise, to endeavour to conciliate Greek philosophy, to admit that Socrates as well as Moses was inspired, and to try to blend the teachings of Plato with those of the Pentateuch. The Palestinian Jews so dreaded the influence of Hellenistic writings that they forbade their perusal merely, and endeavoured to repress the curiosity awakened by them about the philosophies of Greece. When a young Rabbi, Ben Dama, asked his uncle whether, since he had thoroughly mastered every aspect of the law, he might not study Greek philosophy, the old Rabbi referred him to the words of Joshua about meditating in the law day and night ? Go search for the hour which is neither day nor night; in it thou mayest study Greek philosophy.? Edersheim ? Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, ? p. 22.

 

Not only the books of the Apocrypha, but a whole literature, sprang up, in the two centuries preceding the advent, from the effort to blend Grecian thought and Hebrew revelation. Some of it remains to this day, though much has perished. Philo of Alexandria was perhaps the greatest of uninspired Jewish writers, and lived about twenty years before Christ. He treated the Old Testament as symbolical, and drew from it, by very arbitrary interpretations, doctrines which approached those of the popular philosophies. His writings and similar ones bridged over to some extent the great gulf between Judaism and Greek thought; and though they were full of error, they led to a Gentile consideration of the Jewish Scriptures. Alexandria, where three worlds meet Europe, Asia, and Africaa city then of about a million inhabitants, was the home of this Jewish Hellenism; an eighth of the people were Jews, synagogues abounded, and the city had a great Jewish basilica, or cathedral. Rome also had its synagogues and its large Jewish population, which was cordially hated by the rest of the people.

 

But wherever they dwelt, and however much they were Grecianized, the scattered Jews in east, west, north, and south, were all one in their expectation of a coming Messiah. This especially united them amid many diversities of language, custom, and thought. The links which bound them together werea common creed, a common life, a common center, and a common hope.? They all believed in the God of Abraham, in the law of Moses, in the observance of the Sabbath, and feasts and fasts of Leviticus; and they all maintained synagogue worship. Jerusalem was the center of the world to the Jew, whether he lived on the Euphrates, the Nile, or the Tiber; and thither, whenever possible, the pilgrim proceeded, at least once in his life. The advent of Messiah to deliver and restore them all to Palestine was the common hope of Jews both in the East and in the West, and never was ?that hope stronger or so full of expectancy as at the time of the first advent. The unrest and expectancy were heightened by the fact that the chronological prophecy of the seventy weeks from Artaxerxes pointed to the near future as the time of Messiah?s manifestation. The hour at which the great Deliverer was due would soon strike. Daniel?s prophecy was, it was true, mysterious, and did not say much about the glorious kingdom which they anticipated from other sacred promises and predictions. But still it fixed the time for Messiah?s advent; and when He was come, He would restore all things. This prophecy of the seventy weeks would not seem to have been generally understood, but it was influential with the pious few who looked for redemption like the godly Anna, and waited like Simeon for the consolation of Israel.

 

Such then was the condition of the chosen people at the time when the last section of the prophetic program was published. There was a vast dispersion in all lands: the ?Hebrew, ? or Eastern one, speaking Aramean, intensely conservative, ritualistic, and learned in Rabbinic and Talmudic lore; the Western one, progressive, liberal, Hellenized, and philosophic; and between the two the nation, in its own home, Palestine, gathered around its restored temple, yet oppressed by aliens and under tribute, hating its Gentile rulers, though unable to oppose them, and waiting impatiently for Messiah to deliver them and destroy their foes.

 

The ancient synagogue referred to Messiah not only all the passages in the Psalms and prophets which Christians so refer, but many more. More than four hundred and fifty passages of the Old Testament are by ancient Rabbinic writings applied to the coming Messiah; 75 from the Pentateuch, 243 from the prophets, and 138 from the Hagiographa. To the Jewish mind every hope and expectation centerd in the Messianic age. The present night might be dark, but the coming day would be glorious, and meantime the midnight sky was illuminated by the brilliant stars and constellations of Messianic prophecy. Their expectation was of a Messiah King, however, rather than of a Messiah Savior, and their hope was of One who should be the glory of His people Israel, rather than a light to lighten the Gentiles. Their own national exaltation was the great result to be attained, for there reigned among them an overweening idea of their exclusive divine privileges. In the glory of the prospect of their own universal domination they to some extent forgot the great Deliverer who was to raise them from their low estate to the pinnacle of earthly glory. Yet there are passages in the writings of the Rabbis which intimate that some of them realized that Messiah would he more than human and even super-angelic, and also that through Him reconciliation for Israel?s sins would somehow he effected. With passages like Isaiah liii. and Daniel ix., it would indeed have been impossible that such thoughts should not have been forced on some minds. But Jewish understanding of these evangelical predictions was hazy, confused, and even contradictory, and the national mind rested only on the contrasted and more numerous predictions of the glorious earthly kingdom which Messiah was to found.

 

And what was the condition of the Gentile world outside? The fourth empire was in its glory. The ?dreadful and terrible and exceedingly strong? wild beast had been for some time in the ascendant, ravaging, devouring, and breaking in pieces the nations with its great iron teeth, and stamping the residue with the feet of it, as Daniel had predicted.

 

The empire of Rome filled the scene. Julius Caesar had subdued the world; Augustus ruled it. From the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and from the Sahara to the German Ocean, the earth was for the first time crushed, stilled, united under one mighty sceptre. Liberty was dead. The paw of the Roman wild beast had pressed on her heart until it ceased to beat. All nations bowed in submission before the mighty Caesar. The Mediterranean Sea was a Roman lake. ?The empire of the Romans, ? says Gibbon, ?filled the world; and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies.

 

Gibbon, as we saw before, tells us that the empire was 2, 000 miles in depth from north to south, from the wall of Antoninus and the northern limits of Dacia, to Mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer, and 3, 000 miles in length, and that it contained 1, 600, 000 acres of fertile land in the finest part of the temperate zone. The capital of this vast empire was a magnificent city, whose population is variously given as from 1, 200, 000 to six or seven millions, varying probably according to the amount of suburbs included. The civilized world had been welded into one great monarchy for the first time, and the temple of Janus was closed, announcing that the earth was at peace, twenty-three years before the birth of Christ. This great calm of the stormy sea of nations lasted long, , for who could op pose such overwhelming power? The commands of the Roman Caesar were obeyed through all this vast domain, and its inhabitants were all citizens of one great state.

 

This widespread power of Rome was one of the preparations for the advent of the world?s Redeemer. Jewish law, Grecian philosophy, and Roman conquest and policy had each done its preparatory work. Conscience had been educated, language refined and perfected, and fitted to receive a new and final revelation, while the habitable world had been united under a wise and strong government, opened up by Roman roads and posts, and tranquillized by Roman civilization.

 

Morally and socially also the state of things was ripe for a fresh crisis of Divine interference and illumination. The world was, in spite of the peace and plenty which prevailed, profoundly unhappy. The old faiths had lost their power. ?The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.? The rankest polytheism was the result, and religion was dissociated from morality. Irreligion was fashionable, immortality was denied, and vice reigned as a result.

 

One of the strongest indications of the hopeless moral condition of the Roman world was the utter and incredible degradation and suffering of the masses of the people. The great were very powerful, the rich were marvelously and uselessly wealthy. The small and select upper class had all the pleasures and refinements that luxury could invent or selfishness desire; magnificent cities studded the empire, architecture was in its glory, and an elegant literature flourished; but all this was only for the fewthe very, very few. The misery of the industrial classes was indescribable. The tillers of the soil, forming everywhere the largest part of the population, in Europe four-fifths, and the domestic slaves of the rich and noble, individuals among whom sometimes held many hundreds or even thousands of such, were beyond the pale of the law, and regarded as scarcely superior to cattle. Augustus himself at one time gave up to their masters 30, 000 slaves, who had fought for Sextus Pompeius, to be executed, though he had pledged his word not to do so!

 

Even the good Trajan amused the populace for 123 days by the horrid spectacle of 10, 000 slaves killing each other in fights in the amphitheatre! The rural peasantry were oppressed and ground to the earth by cruel bondage. The slaves won in war were treated worst of all. These wretched beings worked almost constantly with chains on their feet; they were worn down with fatigue in order to crush their spirit, and were shut up nightly in subterraneous holes. The frightful sufferings of so large a portion of the population, its bitter hatred against its oppressors, produced continual servile insurrections, plots, assassinations, poisonings. In vain did a sanguinary law condemn to death all the slaves of a master who had been assassinated; vengeance and despair multiplied crime and violence. Sismondi ?Fall of the Roman Empire, ? vol. i. Page 23

 

The condition of woman, even in the highest ranks, was one of slavery. The law regarded her as the property of her husband. The bonds of marriage were utterly relaxed, and immorality reigned among all classes. Tacitus speaks with amazement of the purity and fidelity to the marriage bond which existed among the comparatively uncivilized Germans. In every relation of life the weak were oppressed. Might was esteemed right. There was no fear of God, no hope of life after death, no law of love and brotherhood. Regarded from a moral standpoint, nothing could well be worse than the Roman world into which Christ was born. Darkness covered the nations. But the light of the world arose with healing in its beams, and moral light, religious light, and prophetic light alike streamed forth in abundance. A very era of light succeeded an era of darkness so dense that it is difficult for us even to conceive it.

 

Such then was the political, moral, and religious state of the Gentile world in the first century of our era, at the crisis when the final section of the Divine program of human history was given, the foreview of the dispensation in which we live.

 

And who was the channel of the new revelation? It was neither David, the founder of Jewish monarchy, nor Nebuchadnezzar, the founder of Gentile monarchy, but

 

CHRIST, THE FOUNDER OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

 

The role of history contains no other name that can for a single moment be placed beside that of Jesus of Nazareth under any one single aspect of His wonderful character and career. He came fulfilling all previous prophecy: the seed of the woman, He crushed the serpent?s head, the seed of Abraham, He has brought blessing to all nations; the seed of David, He has founded a kingdom that shall never end; the Messiah of Israel, He has ?finished transgressions, and made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness.? He proved Himself moreover, to be the Prophet of whom Moses spoke, and it is in this last character as a prophet that we have now to regard Him as the author of this, the last section of the Divine program of the world?s history.

 

?God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days SPOKEN UNTO US BY HIS SON, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.? {#Heb 2:14}

 

This statement includes the prophetic utterances of Christ, though it goes far beyond them, and refers principally to the revelation made by Him as a wholethat wonderful revelation of God which was the main object of His incarnation, life, and death. ?I have declared unto them Thy name? (or character), ?and will declare it, ? He said, in His last prayer; and to His disciples, ?He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.?

 

From the full and glorious moral and spiritual revelations made by Christ, from all His wonderful and new doctrinal teachings, we must, however, turn our thoughts. They are not here our theme. He illumined every subject of vital importance to mankind; to receive His teachings was and is to have eternal life. But our present subject is limited to that foreview of future events given directly or indirectly by the Prince of prophets, and which has come down to us from the first century of our era. We must not, indeed, dwell on the whole, even of it, for it is too vast, and it extends to yet future ages. We must confine ourselves mainly to that portion of it which has already been fulfilled by history.

 

The New Testament prophecies, as will at once be recognized, divide themselves naturally into four groups.

 

I. There are first the beautiful annunciatory predictions of the approaching advent of Christ by the angels, to Zacharias and Mary, and then to the shepherds, followed by the exultant prophetic songs of Zacharias and Mary, and by the words of Simeon and John the Baptist. These were partly fulfilled in gospel history, though in their full scope they embrace the present and the future. But on them we need not dwell; they are but as the porch to the temple. They mark, however, the commencement of the new prophetic era.

 

II. The predictions, parabolic and plain, of our Lord Himself in the days of His flesh.

 

III. The revelations given by the Holy Ghost to the apostles, and through themand especially through Paul to the Church.

 

IV. The latest revelation of Christ risen and glorified, from heaven to John in Patmos ?The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass, ? and which He sent and signified by His angel to His servant John.

 

This last prophecy of the Bible is closely related to the entire Old Testament, and to the prophetic parables of Christ. It is given by the same person, deals with the same

 

theme, is couched in the same symbolic form, and is perfectly harmonious in its statements with all the rest of the program.

 

For brevity?s sake we shall not refer in detail to all the Scriptures to which we must now allude, much less quote them in full. This is not, indeed, needful. We may count on our readers? familiarity with the text of the New Testament. Our endeavour will be merely to recall their knowledge, both of predictions and events, in order to lead them fairly to compare the two, and draw the supremely important inferences which are suggested by the comparison. We begin, then, by a consideration of

 

OUR LORD?S OWN PREDICTIONS

 

during His earthly life, both parabolic and plain. That many of even His earliest parables are prophetic none can question. Of the thirty or three and thirty parables in the Gospels, fifteen or sixteen, at least, are of this character. Take, first, the group recorded in Matthew xiii., which were given near the commencement of Christ?s public ministry. In them, omittingfor the sake of simplicity of statement and clearness of impressionall detail, He drew an outline blank map, as it were, of the eighteen Christian centuries. He described, in advance, the broad aspects of the new dispensation He was about to inaugurate.

 

Under various similitudes of the kingdom of heaven, He presented the essential characteristics of the Christian age as contrasted with the Jewish age, then drawing to a close. The revelation made in the parables of the sower sowing the seed, the wheat and tares, the mustard seed, the leaven working in the three measures of meal, the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price, and the net cast into the sea, was a startlingly new one when it was given, though long familiarity with its fulfillment makes it seem most natural to us.

 

It is the same with our Lord?s later parables, and especially with His plain predictions in non-parabolic form. Perplexing, and almost incredible, even on His authority, to Jewish minds, filled with expectation of the future such as we have previously considered, must have been the predictions given in such parables as those of the wicked husbandman who killed the heir, and lost the vineyard; the marriage of the king?s son; the nobleman who went into a far country, and of whom his citizens said, ?We will not have this man to reign over us?; of the talents used or wasted in a long interval which was to elapse before the establishment of the kingdom; of the dark night-watch of the ten virgins for the expected bridegroom, which was so prolonged that they all slumbered and slept;all these foreviews were not only puzzling, but painfully startling, to men convinced that Messiah had come, and that the long-promised kingdom of God, in all its glory, was on the point of being introduced by Him.

 

For what did all these parables with ever-increasing clearness foretell? A course of history with Which we are acquainted as well as with the air we breathe, but which in the first century of our era must have seemed to Jew and Gentile alike not only unnatural, improbable, impossible, but absolutely inconceivable. As a matter of fact, they could not, and did not, conceive it, even after all the prophetic instructions of their Lord and Master. Notwithstanding all He had foretold them to the contrary, they still thought that the kingdom of God would immediately appear; and even as they stood around the ascended Savior in their last earthly interview, they asked: ?Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel??

 

It is exceedingly difficult for us to divest ourselves of our Christian knowledge and consciousness, and transport ourselves in imagination back into the mental and moral condition of the society in the midst of which Jesus Christ promulgated this program of the future. Yet we must endeavour to do this if we would estimate aright the altogether supernatural character of the foreview. It was like a description of the tropics given to Lapps and Eskimos, who have seen nothing but snow and ice, aurora borealis, and the midnight sun! It was like a sketch of the wide ocean presented to men who had no conception of anything but the inside of a temple! They could not take it in: it was too strangely incredible! He could not mean what He said! They sought explanation, hoping to elucidate the mystery, but His interpretations only added to it instead. For, combining in one view all the predictive utterances of Christ, what did He announce as the main features of the age which He was about to inaugurate? Let us try, as we enumerate them one by one, to regard them from the standpoint of Peter or John, as if we were wholly ignorant of all that has since happened in the world.

 

They were convinced that Christ was the long-looked-for Messiah, and they were expecting that He would bring consolation to Israel, deliverance, exaltation, and supremacy. They had heard out of the law that He was to abide for ever, that of the increase of His kingdom there would be no end, that He would sit on the throne of David for ever, and be the glory of His people Israel. They expected, and rightly expected, from Old Testament prophecy, that He would exalt the Jews, and destroy their enemies, and make Jerusalem the joy of the whole earth. Having long delayed His advent, the Anointed of God, the Christ, the King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah was at last come. They had no doubt of it. ?Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.? At last the Son and Lord of David was in their midst, the King was present, the kingdom must follow!

 

But the parables and predictions of Jesus assured them, on the contrary, that a future of a wholly different character lay before them and the world. He did not set aside or destroy their hope and expectation of the oft-predicted kingdom of God on earth. On the contrary, He confirmed their expectation of it, and put into their lips a prayer for its advent:

 

?Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.? It would come at last, it would be revealed in due time. But

 

AN INTERMEDIATE PROSPECT

 

of an entirely different character was opened to their astonished gaze. It was predicted by our Lord

 

I. That He Himself, the King, would be rejected. The husbandmen would say, ?This is the heir; come, let us kill him.? The invited guests would refuse to come to the marriage, and would even slay the messengers sent to invite them. The citizens would say, ?We will not have this man to reign over us.? The builders would reject the stone which should become head of the corner. And mingled with these and similar symbolic intimations were still plainer hints of the foreseen issue. He told them that the Son of man would be ?lifted up, ? like the serpent in the wilderness; that He, when He was ?lifted up, ? would draw all men to Him. He spoke of His blood, or sacrificed life, being the life of the world; told them He was going to lay it down, and at last distinctly predicted that the Jews would deliver Him to the Romans, and that they would crucify Him; that, like Jonas, He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; and that though, like Jonas, He would rise again, yet that it would not be to destroy His enemies and establish His reign on earth. On the contrary, before He did that, the King would go into ?a far country, to receive investiture of His kingdom and to return, as Archelaus, king of Judea, had recently gone to Rome to be invested by Caesar with his crown, that there would be opportunity for the evil servant to say, ?My Lord delayeth His coming, ? to smite his fellow-servants, and eat, and drink, and be drunken; that there would be time for a prolonged probation of the King?s servants, and for use or misuse of the talents committed to their care; that it would not be till ?after a long time? that the Lord of the servants would return to take account of them; and at last, in plainer words, that He was returning to heaven, where He would prepare a place for them, going back to the Father from whom He had come forth; and that the only kingdom which would then be established would be a kingdom of heaven, that is, a rule which would be exercised by a king unseen on earth exalted in heaven.

 

This was the first main, clear, strong feature of Christ?s program of the future. No one can question its prominence in His predictions, and no one can doubt that it was a strange, unexpected, and incredible announcement to those who heard it. The Jews express their astonishment and mental confusion. ?How sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? The law says that the Christ will abide for ever!? But the great Prophet repeated again and again, without a shadow of hesitation or wavering, that it would be even so.

 

Was it mere human foresight that gave this prophecy? Was it likely that the eager, impatient, enthusiastic, and ambitious Jewish people would reject and murder their mighty, miracle-working, Divine Messiah, when, after ages of waiting expectation, He was at last in their midst? Was such a prediction one which a mere man in Christ?s position would have put forward? Would authors of spurious gospels put such a program into the lips of their imaginary hero? Would one who was merely acting the role of Israel?s Messiah have counted certainly on his own rejection, and persisted in predicting it? The adhesion and enthusiasm of the crowds that shouted ?Hosanna!? never misled for a moment or blinded Christ to what was coming. He foresaw the cross; He foretold the cross, and the grave, and the ascension from Olivet, when none but Himself could have even conceived such events. And we know what happened.

 

II. But that was not all! Christ foresaw and foretold also the twofold result of this apparent miscarriage of His mission as Messiah: the fall of Judaism and the rise of Christianity. Apart from all question of the invisible spiritual consequences, the eternal salvation of millionsa consideration which as an invisible, intangible one to sight and sense, we must not here adduceHe foresaw and foretold the approach of two conspicuous and contrasted series of outward events, each series extending over agesevents of national and cosmopolitan importance; events of a mundane, material, historic nature, about which no two opinions can possibly be entertained events which submit themselves to the evidence of our senses, which historians could record and artists paint, and poets and musicians sing; events most momentous in the history of humanity. Such have unquestionably been the fall of Judaism and the rise of Christendom.

 

Neither of these great changes was in the days of Christ within the range of the most keen-sighted mental vision; no human sagacity could descry anywhere on the horizon a cloud as big even as a man?s hand portending their approach. The prescience that anticipated and foretold them was and must have been, therefore, supernaturalDivine.

 

And first, as to THE FALL OF JUDAISM. The Savior?s revelations on the subject were, as usual, progressivehints only at first, then statements, then full and clear descriptions. The moral reason for and cause of the event is also exhibited: the Jews are made to pronounce their own doom. What would the householder do to the disloyal men who had killed the heir of the vineyard? ?He will miserably destroy those wicked men, ? say the chief priests and elders of the people, ?and will let out the vineyard to other husbandmen, who will render him the fruits in their season.? The Lord endorses their judgment, and adds, ?Ye are the men!? For He says, ?The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.? Here is foretold a loss of all the peculiar privileges of Judaism, as a result of their rejection of Christ; as well as that otherssome who had never enjoyed it previouslywould gain ?the kingdom of God, ? which they would lose.

 

The same prediction was oft repeated. The carefully cultured but still fruitless tree would, after long and patient waiting, be cut down. The barren fig. tree afforded a visible symbol of what was to happen to the nation when it withered away. The enemies who would not have the King to reign over them would be slain before His face. Strangers from the east and from the west would sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, while the children of the kingdom would be cast out. As the great tragedy drew near its climax, and the leaders of Israel ranged themselves decidedly against their Messiah, the utterances of Christ became plainer. Not that His convictions were deepened by such indications of what was likely to come, but that He would not anticipate rejection too distinctly before it had been resolved on by His foes. It was only in the last week of His earthly life that He spoke out fully on this subject, and His most memorable and touching utterance about it was made on that festive Palm Sunday, when, for a brief moment, it seemed as if the result might be different. Amid thousands of grateful disciplesthe lame and the blind whom He had healed, the lepers whom He had cleansed, the very dead whom He had raised, and the multitudes whom He had taughtZion?s King came to her that day, meek, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass. The crowd were waving palms of victory as they escorted Him from Bethany, and laying their garments for Him to ride over. The children sang ?Hosanna!? and greeted Him as Son of David. But the present could not conceal from Him the future, and as He approached Jerusalem His tears flowed as He bewailed, in tender and animated utterance, her terrible approaching fate and self-inflicted doom. She had rejected all His loving efforts, and failed to recognize her day of gracious Divine visitation. In sad and solemn prophecy Jesus foretold, ?The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another.?

 

This seemed a strange future to be announced to Israel by the Messiah, for whom she had so longed and waited, as the harbinger of better and brighter days. It was enough to shock men who were indulging half-worldly and half-religious ideas of approaching deliverance from their enemies, and triumph over all Gentile foes. What! their enemies not only to rule them as Herod, Pilate, and Caesar were already doing, but actually to raze Jerusalem to the ground!

 

Judea was then a flourishing province of the mighty Roman empire. Jesus Christ was simply a young Galilean prophet to the outward eye, nothing more. The Herodian dynasty was safely seated on the throne, and the templeof which Jesus said, ?Your house is left unto you desolate?had been rebuilt in much magnificence and almost regardless of cost; cities and palaces of Roman and Grecian architecture studded the land; Roman soldiery guarded the country, and kept the people in order. Nothing boded change, ruin, banishment, extermination for some, and age-long exile even unto this day for others. How could even the unjust execution of any individual involve such consequences? Could anything be more unlikely than the delivery, not to say fulfillment, of these predictions? Imagine a parallel case. Some young and humble religious teacher who has, however, great power and originality, comes up to London from the northern counties, takes the position of a bold reformer, claims the right to overthrow existing religious abuses, upbraids the Church leaders of the land for their simony, worldliness, and traditional customs opposed to the word of God, ventures to purify the Church by some bold, practical measures, is, in consequence, arrested and accused by those who reject his religious pretensions. He is tried and condemnedand then, without the least personal feeling, but seriously, sadly, and even solemnly, he predicts that the result of his rejection will be the utter overthrow of the Protestant religion, the downfall of the British empire, the complete destruction of St. Paul?s and Westminster Abbey, so that not one stone will be left on another, and ages of a foreign occupation of England!

 

Yet it was thus Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet of Galilee, forewarned the Jews as to the results of their rejecting Him and the wonderful fact is that the event justified the prediction, and all subsequent history attested its Divine inspiration.

 

He said much more on the subject to His disciples shortly afterwards. Seated together with Him on the Mount of Olives, and gazing across the valley of Jehoshaphat on the striking view of Jerusalem outspread before them, with its beautiful temple, and temple area, in the foreground, the twelve, pondering the sad future He had predicted for their holy house, and finding it hard to believe, remarked to Him, in a deprecatory, expostulating tone, on the extent, variety, magnificence, and solidity of the structures recently erected by Herod. They pointed out how richly the temple was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, and seemed anxious to elicit, if possible, some qualification, if not contradiction, of the doom that had been foretold. It was a perfect vision of beauty from that point, with its marble courts and golden gates glittering in the glorious sunshine of the East, and contrasting in its massive magnificence with the graceful palms, the feathery tamarisk, and the dark cypress around.

 

The scene was the pride of Jewish hearts, and, as they challenged Christ?s admiration of it, His gaze was troubled, and in accents of deep sincerity and sorrow He assured them that His previously expressed anticipation was only too correct. ?See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.? He then went on to assure them that they would themselves see Jerusalem compassed with idolatrous Gentile armies; and that when they did so, they and all His Judean disciples should flee to the mountains, for that days of dreadful vengeance would then be commencing; that a time of great and unparalleled tribulation for the Jews would be opening; that many of them would fall by the edge of the sword, many more be led away captive into all nations, and that Jerusalem itself would not only be taken and destroyed, but that the very site of it wouldthroughout an entire dispensationbe held by Gentile conquerors. ?Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, ? He prophesied, ?until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.? Now, as the times of the Jews, or Jewish age, had lasted for 2, 000 years, these words might well suggest to the disciples that ?the times of the Gentiles? would be no brief seventy years, like the Babylonian captivity, but, as has proved to be the case, a long dispensational ?age? analogous to that of Judaism.

 

Our Lord thus foresaw and foretold as definitely and clearly as possible, both in parabolic and plain predictions,

 

1. The fall of Judaism as a religion;

 

2. The destruction of Jerusalem as a city, and of the temple as a sanctuary;

 

3. A time of great tribulation, and of prolonged dispersion of the Jewish people;

 

4. An age-long desolation of the land, and Gentile doinination of Jerusalem.

 

Here are four distinct elements of the future; and it should be noted that any one of the four might have happened without the other three. The religious economy of Judaism might have come to an end without the political extinction of the nation; the city and temple might have been destroyed and rebuilt within a century, as after the Babylonian captivity; the Jews might have been scattered and restored, or Jerusalem might, like Nineveh, or Palmyra, or Ephesus, have lain long in its ruins without being trodden down by Gentile occupants all those ages. The foreview given on this one point alone was no simple, obvious one, easy to invent, certain to be realized. On the contrary, it picks its way carefully amidst a crowd of probabilities, possibilities, contingencies of all kinds. It announced, simply and authoritatively, the future will be thus and thus, at a time when no human wisdom or prescience could have decidedout of a thousand contingencieswhich was even most likely to occur.

 

An elaborate series of events, embracing complicated, intricate, and long-continued episodes of Jewish and Gentile history, which it has taken volume upon volume to record, is predicted in a few sharp, clear sentences. The prophecy is precisely such a one as no pretender to supernatural prescience would have ventured on. But just as there are portraits, landscapes, sea pictures, and cloud scapes that could only have been painted from the actual sight of the originals, so this outline of the future of the Jews, uttered 1, 800 years ago by Jewish lips, amid scenes of Jewish peace and prosperity, could only have been drawn by One whose all-seeing eye could gaze on events which lay at the time hidden in the womb of the future.

 

For we need scarcely tell how history justified the daring predictions. The tragic and wonderful story is so familiar that it suffices to recall our knowledge of it in the briefest way. Who has not shuddered over the pages of Josephus, as he narrates, with the exactness of an eye-witness, the episodes of the long drawn-out agony, all the more painfully impressive because the tale is traced by a Jewish pen? If we inquire of this writer, Did many fall by the sword, as Jesus here predicted?humanity itself sickens over the reply. Christian faith in considering it exclaims in awe: Behold ?the severity of God, ?the proof that severity is as truly one of His attributes as ?goodness.? We may not quote Josephus, for his story is far too full. The following summary from the pages of Bishop Newton will recall some of the facts so vividly described in full in his ?Wars of the Jews?

 

?The number of those who ?fell by the edge of the sword? was indeed very great. Of those who perished during the whole siege, there were, ? as Josephus says, 1, 100, 000 Many were also slain at other times and in other places. By the command of Florus, who was the first author of the war, there were slain at Jerusalem 3, 600; by the inhabitants of Cxsarea, above 20, 000; at Scythopolis, above 13, 000; at Ascalon, 2, 500, and at Ptolemais, 2, 000. At Alexandria, under Tiberius Alexander, the president, 50, 000; at Joppa, when it was taken by Cestius Gallus, 8, 400 in a mountain called Asamon, near Sepphoris, above 2, 000; at Dainasens, lo, ooo; in a battle with the Romans at Ascalon, 50, 000; in an ambuscade near the same place, 8, ooo; at Japha, 15, 000 of the Samaritans, upon Mount Gerizim, t, 600; at Jotapha, 40, 000; at Joppa, when taken by Vespasian, 4, 200; at Tarichea, 6, 500, and after the city was taken, 5, 200; at Gamala, 4, 000 slain, besides 5, 000 who threw themselves down a precipice; of those who fled with John from Gisehala, 6, 000; of the Gadarenes, 15, 000 slain, besides an infinite number drowned; in the villages of Idumea, above 10, 000 slain; at Gerasa, 1, 900; at Machaerus, 1, 700; in the wood of Jardes, 3, 000; in the castle of Massada, 960; in Cyrene, by Catullus, the governor, 3, 000. Besides these, many of every age, sex, and condition were slain in this war, who are not reckoned but of these who are reckoned, the number amounts to about 1, 35 7, 660, which would appear almost incredible if their own historian had not so particularly enumerated them.

 

But, besides the Jews who ?fell by the edge of the sword, ? others were also to be led away captive into all nations; and, considering the number of the slain, the number of the captives too was very great. There were taken, particularly, at Japha, 2, 530; at Jotapha, 1, 200. At Tarichea, 6, ooo chosen young men were sent to Nero, the rest sold, to the number of 30, 400, besides those who were given to Agrippa: of the Gadarenes, 2, 200; in Idumea, above 5, 000. Many, besides these, were taken at Jerusalem, so that, as Josephus himself informs us, ?The number of the captives taken in the whole war amounted to 97, 000. The tall and handsome young men Titus reserved for his triumph; of the rest, those above seventeen years of age were sent to the works in Egypt; but most were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed in their theatres by the sword or by the wild beasts. Those under seventeen were sold for slaves. Of these captives, many underwent hard fate. Eleven thousand of them perished for want. Titus exhibited all sorts of shows and spectacles at Caesarea; and many of the captives were there destroyed, some being exposed to the wild beasts, and others compelled to fight in troops against one another. At Caesarea, too, in honour of his brother?s birthday, 2, 500 Jews were slain; and a great number likewise at Berytus, in honour of his father?s. The like was done in other cities of Syria. Those whom he reserved for his triumph were Simon and John, the generals of the captives, and seven hundred others of remarkable stature and beauty. Thus were the Jews miserably tormented and distributed over the Roman provinces; and are they not still distressed, and dispersed over all the nations of the earth? Written 1888 A.D.

 

?As the Jews were ?to be led away captive into all nations, ? so Jerusalem was to be ?trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.? And accordingly Jerusalem has never since been in the possession of the Jews, but hath constantly been in subjection to some other nation, as first to the Romans, and afterwards to the Saracens, and then to the Francs, and then to the Mamelucs, and now to the Turks.? ?Newton?s Dissertation, ? p. 414

 

The Emperor Hadrian, whose first name was.Ælius, placed a Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem, and built there a city, which he called, after himself, ÆLIA. It had a temple dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus. The erection of the temple excited to revolt the remnant of the Jews left in Palestine. They rose in rebellion under Barchochab, a robber and murderer, and then came the final catastrophe, the last act of the tragedy in the land, in AD. 135.

 

?The Jews were at length subdued with most terrible slaughter: fifty of their strongest castles and 985 of their best towns were sacked and demolished; 580, 000 men fell by the sword in battle, besides an infinite multitude who perished by famine and sickness and fire, so that Judea was almost all desolated.

 

?The Jewish writers themselves reckon that doubly more Jews were slain in this war than came out of Egypt; and that their sufferings und~r Nebuchadnezzar and Titus were not so great as what they endured under the Emperor Adrian. Of the Jews who survived this second ruin of their nation, an incredible number of every age and sex were sold like horses, and dispersed over the face of the earth. The emperor completed his design, rebuilt the city, re-established the colony, ordered the statue of a hog in marble to be set up over the gate that opened towards Bethlehem, and published an edict strictly forbidding any Jew, upon pain of death, to enter the city, or so much as to look upon it at a distance.? ?Newton?s Dissertation, ? p. 415.

 

The tears which Israel?s Messiah shed over Jerusalem and her children welled up from eyes that foresaw what was corningforesaw all this and much more of the same sort.

 

For 1, 800 years exile, persecution, and cruel oppression have, as we showed in the Mosaic section, been the portion of the Jewish nationfor all that we have recalled here was only the beginning of sorrows. The entire interval up to the time of the French revolution at the end of last century was to Israel a time of great tribulation, though its extremest severity was not continuous, but intermittent. Our century has seen a very marked change in the fortunes and condition of the Jews, for the times of the Gentiles are well-nigh over, and Israel?s long story is not finished yet. It is only beginning, indeed, for it will need eternity to tell it all.

 

Twice over our Lord employed the important little word ?until? in His predictions of these Jewish experiences. Your house is left unto you desolate, He said, until ye are ready to welcome, instead of reject, Me; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until their age has run its appointed course. What do these limits mean? If a judge says to a criminal, ?You are to remain in prison until five years have run their course, ? what does he imply? If an architect says, ?I will not begin to rebuild that house until funds have been secured for the purpose, ? what is the inference? He who foretold the present doom of Israel indicated its limits, and indicated also what would follow.

 

For Christ foretold His own return, as well as His departureHis return to reign on earth and over Israel, as the prophets of the Old Testament had promised. He did not set aside the Jewish hope for ever, hut only postponed it for a time, and revealed an intermediate dispensation. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. The kingdom promised to Israel under their Messiah cannot be fulfilled by the present Gentile dispensation, while Christ is in heaven and the Jews under great tribulation. It is derogatory to the truth and inspiration of Scripture to suppose it! The angel, in announcing the birth of Jesus, predicted that He should be great, and that the Lord God would give unto Him the throne of His father David; that He should reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and that of His kingdom there should be no end. This prediction has yet to be fulfilled. It is not and cannot be fulfilled by the present kingdom of heaven. On the contrary, Christ predicted that He would establish it at His second advent. He sets His seal to all the old predictions, and adds new ones. The kingdom, He tells them, when it does come, will be a far more glorious one than they imagined. The Son of man will come in clouds, with power and great glory. He will send forth His angels, and gather His elect. He will come in the glory of His Father, and of the holy angels, and sit on the throne of His glory. He will reckon with His servants, and award places of honour in the kingdom to His faithful followers. {#Lu 22:29} But Israel?s repentance would have to be the preliminary. ?Until? then they would see Him no more. All this was in perfect harmony with Old Testament prophecy, with Zechariah xi. and xii., and many other passages. As all this is, however, at present unfulfilled prophecy, we do not dwell on it here.

 

We have now seen what the program given by Christ was in its negative aspect. The coming age would not be a continuation of Judaism. The favoured nation, which for 2, 000 years had been the channel of revelation, and the sole witness for the living and true God in an idolatrous pagan world, was to be removed from the position of which its rejection of Christ had proved it unworthy. This predicted destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, with which Jexvish ritual worship was inseparably connected, involved a change in God?s providential action towards mankind. What would be substituted for Judaism? What was the positive side of the prophetic program presented by our Lord Jesus?

 

He announced THE RISE, CHARACTER, COURSE, AND ISSUES OF AN ENTIRELY NEW AND PREVIOUSLY UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMY OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE, of which He speaks under the name of ?the kingdom of heaven.? He did not Himself personally reveal all that the program was to contain on this subject. Much could not properly be revealed until after His resurrection. As we shall presently see, this part of the prophecy was left to be communicated subsequently, through the inspired apostles. But Jesus Himself sketched its outline. He neither defined fully what the true Church would be, nor what the outward professing Church, which we call Christendom, would be. That was foretold later on. But He gave similitudes of the coming ?kingdom of heaven, ? which prove that the eighteen Christian centuries lay naked and open before His all-seeing eye, though during the days of His flesh a full disclosure would have been premature.

 

This ?kingdom of heaven, ? or present spiritual kingdom of God on earth, must be broadly distinguished from the other kingdom of which we have just spoken. It is in mystery only a kingdom, not in manifestation. None can see its King or its court, its hosts or its palaces, nor even distinguish its subjects, by any outward sign, from its enemies. Christ speaks of ?the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, ? and He paints it as wonderfully different from the earthly kingdom of God which Israel had been expecting, and which, owing to their rejection of its King, was postponed sine die, and is still future. That kingdom was to be introduced by the return of the King in power and great glory, characterized by His personal presence, by His session on the throne of David, and by the exaltation of repentant and restored Israel. This kingdom, on the other hand, exists during the absence of the King in heaven, runs its course during His Melchizedek session on the throne of God, and coincides with the time of Israel?s dispersion and rejection. The two are contrasted in every respect: the one is a rule on earth, the other a rule from heaven; the one is over peoples and nations, the other is over the hearts and lives of Christ?s disciples mainly, though involving also a hidden providential government of the world; it is an invisible rule, a mysterious sway, an intangible dominion; it is a kind of kingdom of which the Jews had no conception, and of which the disciples themselves were slow to catch the idea; it was one which had never been clearly predicted in the Old Testament, and they had failed to understand the hints of it which the prophets had given; it was practically a new revelation. Hence our Lord began His gradual unfolding of it in simple parables, in order that the homely analogies might make way for the novel conception.

 

Combining all the intimations given by its Founder as to this kingdom of heaven, we must now deduce, from the mass of parable and prediction in the Gospels, the positive side, or Christian aspect, of Christ?s program of the future.

 

And first, in His prophetic parables, our Lord foretold that the coming dispensation, or kingdom of heaven, would have no national limits, but be cosmopolitanuniversal in its scope. ?The field? of Divine operation would in future be ?the world.? This was a novel and most startling idea for Jewish minds, and the disciples sought an explanation of what to them seemed so strange, though to us so simple and familiar. The world? Yes. ?The field is the world.? As if He had said: In the future no one nation will enjoy any religious advantages more than another. All distinction of Jew and Gentile will be done away. The revelation of God will be for all, to all. There will be no planting and hedging of a vineyard. ?The field is the world.? Absolute equality of religious privileges among men, irrespective of nationality, is here clearly predicted.

 

Secondly, the future operations of God in this field would be dissimilar in character from any past operations of His in the world. He would establish no outward visible theocracy nor ritual religious service. He would enact no new code of laws, as from Sinai, nor establish ceremonial worship and a separate priesthood. He would work no special miracles of preservation and deliverance for His people; on the contrary, His action would be like that of a sower sowing the seed. ?Behold, a sower went forth to sow.? The new dispensation would be marked by a wide distribution of living seed; that is, by a world-wide diffusion of truthliving and life-giving truth. Hence its one great ordinance would not be, as of old, sacrifice, but preaching, teaching, imparting to men the word of God. The Sower?s object was to diffuse His precious seed, and the seed possessed, latent in itself, the powers of life and of self-multiplication. All life comes from seed, and tends to produce seed, which, in its turn, gives birth to new life. The kingdom of heaven would grow, by inward life-power, from small beginnings to immense development. The seed would grow secretly, the progress of the kingdom of heaven would be by the hidden and concealed operations of spiritual life; for as seed is capable of being quickened into wondrous action, so the word of God has in it the germ which can produce rich and ever-increasing results.

 

This was clearly a prediction that the coming age would see inward and spiritual operations on the part of the Divine Being, that He would work in the hearts and minds of men, and that, instead of imposing a new law, He was about to impart a new life. It was a prediction that the kingdom of heaven would not be established by force, like the empire of Caesar or the subsequent sway of Mohammed. The Jews expected Messiah to establish His kingdom by force, by the subjugation of enemies and the punishment of all opponents. The only kingdoms the Jews had ever known, or indeed that the world had ever seen up to that time, had been won by force, and been held by force alone. But Christ told them there was coming a dominion wider and longer than any earth had seen, that would be established solely by a gradual dissemination and spread of the truth of God.

 

He intimated, thirdly, that the subjects of the new kingdom would not be received en masse, as nations, but only individually, and that in every case the growth of the seed would depend upon the condition of the soil into which it fell. There would be a recognition of individuality: the state of heart and mind of each hearer of the word would in each case determine the issue of the sowing. This again was something wholly new, for a man was a Jew, whether he would or no, but no one would enter the kingdom of heaven against his will.

 

Fourthly, the new age was to present a mixed condition of things. He tells them that the kingdom of heaven will in this respect bear no resemblance to the future kingdom of God, in which He will ?gather out all things that offend, and those that do iniquity, ? in which righteousness will reign triumphant, and sin will not be suffered, nor enemies and evil-doers tolerated. He predicts that, on the contrary, in the kingdom of heaven tares will grow as well as wheat, that the enemy will be at work as well as the sower, that the husbandman will not suffer the tares to be eradicated, that both good and bad fish will be gathered in the net, and that no separation will take place until the end of the age. This mixed condition of things is predicted again and again as a feature of the coming kingdom in later parables: there would be foolish virgins without any oil in their lamps, as well as wise ones; there would be foolish builders laying their foundations on the sand, as well as wise ones, who would build on the rock; there would be wicked and evil servants, who wasted their Lord?s substance, as well as good and faithful ones; and there would at last be goats on the left hand, as well as sheep on the right.

 

Thus our Savior?s very earliest parablesbefore there were any signs that Israel would reject their Messiah, and thus interpose a barrier to the immediate coming of the kingdom which they expected-predicted four of the most salient features of the new dispensation, which He alone foresaw. Its sphere was to be universal; its nature was to be spiritual, as He taught the woman of Samaria in plain words; it would deal with men individually, and not nationally; and its character, though a kingdom of heaven, would be mixed imperfect, good and bad.

 

In later parables He revealed many additional features of the coming age, to which we must only allude. In His story of the laborers who, though they had toiled for dissimilar periods, were equally rewarded by the householder, He foretold that the exercise of sovereign grace would be a leading principle of God?s providence, for this was a similitude of the kingdom of heaven. In giving every man his due, the wages for which he had agreed, the master acted in strict and simple justice. So God had acted in Judaism. In giving some men much more than their due, the owner of the vineyard had acted in free grace, for the laborers had no claim to so much, and had made no bargain at all. That was undeserved kindness, unmerited generosity, for which the recipients made no return. That principle was to mark the future in contrast to the past. So ?the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.?

 

In the parable of the ten virgins, again, Christ not only teaches the duty of watchfullness, but indicates in advance facts concerning the future, to name which is to recall the fulfillment of His prediction. He foresaw that His own second advent would be long delayed. The Bridegroom tarriedcame not when He was expected. He foresaw also the effect of this on the Church, ? They all slumbered and slept.? For a thousand years the Church did so: the hope of the Lord?s coming, so bright at first, so bright again now since the warning cry went forth, was lost sight of throughout the middle ages. He foresaw also that false profession would be exceedingly prevalent. Half the virgins would have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. We are accustomed to look at this parable and similar ones as teaching needed moral and spiritual lessons. They do this, but they are also prophecies. They foretell a new state of things, and one contrasted with Judaism. Jews did not slumber and sleep as to their Messianic hopes! The longer Messiah?s advent was delayed, the more impatient they became for it. They did not make false profession of being Jews, for they were such by blood. This sketch portrayed a future state of things, and one without any previous precedent; in other words, it was distinctly part of a prophetic program.

 

The wide extension of the kingdom of heaven in the world had been distinctly predicted in the similitude of the mustard seed. Later on Christ foretold the bitter persecution of His disciples; the hatred and opposition of the world to them and their mission. He told them that He Himself was leaving them, that they would lose the help of His Divine wisdom and supernatural power, and be like sheep among wolves. And yet they were to witness for Him to the uttermost ends of the earth, and spread the story of a despised, rejected, and crucified Prophet among all nations. They were practically to establish this ?kingdom of heaven, ? which was to become so great, and they were but a few poor, ignorant, unlearned, and very commonplace Galilean peasants, with no power, or wealth, or experience, or special talent of any kind. The plan seemed very unlikely to succeed, and yet we know it did succeed, as was predicted, so that the apostles turned the world upside-down; and that the Christendom which now is, owes its origin instrumentally to their lives and labors.

 

How was this? The question brings us to the last of our Lord?s predictions, which we must notice here, those we have noticed being only a sample of many more, which our readers will recall on reflection, the last, and, with one exception, the most important and distinctive.

 

The Lord Jesus foretold repeatedly and emphatically the advent from heaven to earth of God the Holy Ghost, and His future indwelling in the disciples.

 

This was no mere doctrine which He taught. It was a stupendous fact of the first magnitude which He predicted.

 

No other facts, save His own incarnation and atoning sacrifice, can even be compared to it in importance.

 

The Holy Spirit, the mighty Spirit of God, that brooded on the face of the deep before the world was; the Spirit of truth, who could reveal things to come; the Comforter, whose presence would so replace His own as to make it even ?expedient? that He should go away; whose coming would prevent their being lonely and helpless ?orphans?; who would be to them ?power from on high?; who would reprove the world of sin and righteousness and judgment; who would teach them all things, and recall Christ?s own words to remembrance, illuminating with heavenly light sayings which had been dark to them when uttered, and enabling them also faithfully to record the words He had spoken to them;this Divine Being should not only come, and influence them as 1-le had often done before, but, said the great Prophet, ?He dwelleth with you, AND SHALL BE IN YOU.?

 

Here we have a present and a future. The Holy Spirit has in earlier ages come upon God?s saints and influenced them from an external position, as it were, and in Christ?s own presence He had dwelt with them. But in the coming age His relation to the disciples would be an altogether different one. ?He shall be in you, ? said the Savior. And He described this indwelling in figure as a fountain springing up from the inmost depths of a man?s being, ?in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.?

 

This advent of the Holy Ghost was to succeed Christ?s own ascension. ?The Holy Ghost, ? says John, ?was not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified.? ?If I depart, ? said Jesus, ?I will send Him unto you.? What a magnificent indication of the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth! Who but (a) God can send the Spirit of God? ?I will send HIM.?

 

(Guinness wrote as the harvest truth was coming in regarding the nature of Christ before and after His exaltation, and the nature of the Holy Spirit. - Ed.)

 

But this is not the aspect in which we must here consider the words. We regard them only as a prediction by Christ of the distinguishing feature of the kingdom of heaventhe indwelling in His disciples of His own Holy Spirit. The prediction began to be fulfilled, as we know, at Pentecost, and has been fulfilling ever since; and nothing else but its fulfillment accounts for the spread of the religion of Christ which has taken place. Christians alone could have done nothing; Christ, in His people, by His Spirit, has changed the face of the world, and established a spiritual kingdom which has embraced already unnumbered millions, who have been translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God?s dear Son.

 

To this point we shall have to revert in considering the Pauline view of the Christian age. In the meantime we must ask, before going further, Has the section of the program given by our Lord Himself beenso farborne out by subsequent events?

 

It is, of course, of the religious history of the world we must think mainly in seeking the answer. Political events were mentioned under the negative Judaic section; here it is mainly with Church history, with the -aspect of the world in its relation to God and to religion, that we have to do. We have pointed out that the state of things predicted differed widely from anything that had existed on earth up to that time. Need we point out that it corresponds precisely with that which came into being soon afterwards, has lasted from that day to this, and is all around us now? In the first century there was one nation, and one only, that knew anything at all about the one living and true God. In the nineteenth, over four hundred millions of men, of all nations, profess to adore Him through Jesus Christ, In the first century there was one temple only to Jehovahthat of Jerusalem. Then Egypt, Greece, and Rome with all the nations she had subjugated, were ?without hope and without God in the world.? Now, in the nineteenth century, churches for the worship of God may be found from Eastern Japan girdling the globe to California, and studding it everywhere, from Greenland in the north to New Zealand in the south. Is it not true that the field is the world? Did Moses ever give such a command as, ?Go ye into all the world and preach to every creature?? Limitation by nationality was not more characteristic of Judaism than universality and individualism of this Christian age. Yet, when Christ sketched this outline, no eye but His own foresaw the change that was coming.

 

Again. What has wrought the change from Judaism and heathenism to the Christendom of our days?

 

Sowers sowing the seed preachers preaching the word, martyrs witnessing for Jesus, the Holy Spirit convincing and converting individuals one by one. Nothing else! No warlike aggression, no philosophic speculation, no scientific discovery, no miraculous intervention, no political organization. It has ?pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.?

 

It is so with every other point: the fact and the foreview correspond as the scene and its photograph. They do this so obviously that it would only be wearisome to particularize. Reflection will discover countless such correspondences between Christ?s own plain or symbolic predictions and their fulfillments in the eighteen Christian centuries, and the only thing needed to produce an overwhelming sense of wonder and adoration in the mind as we contemplate the harmony, is to realize the condition of the world when the program was given. It is nothing now to say, ?We shall one day see China intersected with railways, ? because we have seen England and Europe so intersected. But to have conceived and described the steam engine, the train, and the iron road, with the speed of transit and the number of travellers, in the days of stage coaches would have evinced the foresight of genius. So to describe beforehand a great change in the providence of God, and in the religious state of men, demanded Divine prescience, and that Christ did so proves that He possessed such foreknowledge.

 

But we must turn now to His indirect revelations through His apostles, which, from the nature of the case, were even more full and definite than His own direct prophecies.

 

THE APOSTOLIC SECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN PROGRAM.

 

The nature of the case rendered it inevitable that much about the future should not have been clearly or fully revealed by our Lord Himself during His earthly lifetime. There were features of the coming age consequent on His own death, resurrection; and ascension which were necessarily veiled in mystery until these all-important events had taken place. Hence He said to His apostles, ?I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will show you things to come.?

 

This promise and prediction would lead us to expect to find in the recorded utterances and still extant writings of the apostles further details as to the program of the eighteen Christian centuries. Nor are we disappointed, for on examining the Book of Acts, and especially the Epistles of Paul and the Revelation of John, we find the outline of Christ filled in with a thousand details, and the sketch which He drew colored with the rich and glowing tints of a finished picture. Yet He was Himself the great Prophet, for not only did He give in embryo all that is afterwards developed into the full Christian program of the apostles, but it was HE who spake by the apostles, and He who gave to John the wonderful Apocalypse of the future which he transmitted to the Church. The program is all from Himself, therefore, though it was given in three successive sections: the first from His own lips, the second through the apostles, and especially through Paul, and the third through John.

 

It should be noted that Paul had never companied with our Lord in His earthly lifetime, like the twelve. He was called by the ascended Savior from heaven, and was acquainted only with Christ risen and glorified. This imparted, as we shall presently see, a peculiar character to his revelations. John, again, wrote long after the other apostles had sealed their witness with their blood. He wrote after Jerusalem had fallen, and the temple been destroyed by the Romans. in the year A.D. 96.

 

In considering the apostolic program, we shall find that it consists almost entirely of an enlargement and amplification of Christ?s own predictions. It shows how the future which He foretold would work itself out, and the actual form which the results of the great changes He announced would take. There is in it nothing independent or disconnected with the earlier predictions in the Gospels, though much that is apparently new. We can trace back each of the fresh revelations to its root in the Lord?s own previous teachings. His prophetic words are seen in the light of the apostolic foreviews to have been seedsgerms of great things. A whole group of predictions connects itself with each one of His brief similitudes and simple statements. This will at once be perceived, if we consider the apostolic program under the three main heads of,

 

I. ITS DISPENSATIONAL PREDICTIONS.

 

II. ITS REVELATIONS ABOUT THE TRUE CHURCH.

 

III. ITS PROPHECIES OF THE APOSTASY.

 

The first set will be found to grow out of and harmonize perfectly with our Lord?s predictions about Judaism; the second with His revelation of the coming Comforter and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; and the third with His foreview of the mixed condition of Christendom and of the conduct of the unfaithful servants.

 

I. THE PROPHETIC STATEMENTS OF THE APOSTLES ON DISPENSATIONAL SUBJECTS.

 

Inspired by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost itself, Peter quotes and applies Joel?s prediction of the effusion of the Spirit of God on people of all ages and both sexes in the last days, and claims that the wonderful event which had just taken place, and as to which all Jerusalem was marvelling, fulfilled the ancient prophecy.

 

This expression ?last days ?may be and is applied either to the whole of the Christian dispensation, or to its closing portion. So a British officer returning from the East might say he had entered on the last stage of his journey when the P. and 0. steamer left Gibraltar, because its next stop would be in England. But the ship might touch at Plymouth, and he might run up to town by train. That would be in another sense the last stage of his long journey, and only the drive from the terminus of the line to his own home would be absolutely the last stage. In Joel?s day, an~in Daniel?s, the whole of this dispensation is spoken of as the last days, that is to say, the last disfensation of Providence; but we now live in the last stage of the last days.

 

Now that prophecy was not one of Jewish blessing, but of universal blessing, and speaks of a time when the distinctively Jewish age will have passed away and given place to another. It speaks of ?all flesh, ? and strikes the keynote of the gospel age in the words, ?Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.? Peter thus endorses our Lord?s own statement, that the kingdom of God had been taken from the wicked husbandmen and given to others; that the universal age had begun, and that henceforth the field was the world.

 

In his address to the Jews on the occasion of the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the temple, after showing them what they had done in rejecting Christ, that they had ?denied the Holy One, and the just, and killed the Prince of life, ?Peter re-echoes the Lord?s statement about His departure and its limits, saying, ?Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, ?that is, until the dawn of the glorious kingdom of God on earth at the second advent. Peter here places the same limit to the present ?kingdom of heaven?which our Lord Himself had indicated. He says Christ is gone from earthheaven had received Him for a time; but it is for a ti, , ie only; and when Israel repents, His absence will terminate, He will return, and bring ?times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.? Both these expressions, ?times of refreshing and ?times of restitution of all things, ? refer to the yet future kingdom of God on earth, the kingdom predicted by David and by Daniel, and expected by Israel, and for the coming of which Christ bade us pray. The apostle here, like his Master, interposes between the time then present and the advent of that kingdom an age during which, the Jews having disowned Christ, the heavens receive Him; that is, this present time of His absence, in which those who have never seen Him yet believe in Him, and are saved.

 

The Book of Acts traces the story of apostolic witness to Christ in Jerusalem and in Judea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth, and shows that this was the way in which historically it spread. In these ever-widening circles the gospel was preached when the members of the Church of Jerusalem were ?all scattered abroad? by persecution. Samaria received the word with joy; so did the eunuch of Candace, an Ethiopian, who was the first-fruits of Africa unto God. Then Saul of Tarsus, a Jew of the Western dispersion, was converted. Then Cornelius, the Roman centurion, and his household received the gospel and the effusion of the Holy Spirit, to the utter astonishment of the Jews who were with Peter, and to the perplexity and disturbance of the Church in Jerusalem, who even ?contended? with Peter about it, so little had Christ?s disciples at that time realized that the field was the world! The rehearsal of Peter?s vision, however, brought them to consent, though with surprise, to this new providence, saying, ?Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.?

 

Gospel preaching had at first been deliberately addressed to ?none but unto the Jews only? {#Ac 11:19} but some of the early disciples were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, Jews belonging to the great Western dispersion. On their return from Jerusalem, they began, we read, ?to speak unto the Grecians also, preaching the Lord Jesus; and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.? Then afterwards Paul, who had from his conversion been designated as the ?apostle of the Gentiles, ?{#Ac 9:15 26:17 Ro 15:16} went forth with Barnabas or with Silas on his wide and lifelong mission to the nations. Antioch, Seleucia, Cyprus, Pamphylia, and Pisidia received the gospel, the Jews constantly opposing and hindering, until at last Paul formally abandoned them, saying, ?It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us.? By special providences the great apostle is led to cross from Asia to Europe, when Thracia, Macedonia, and Achaia, philosophic Athens, luxurious Corinth, and at last imperial Rome, also received the word. It had then extended from the Jewish metropolis to the metropolis of the vast Gentile world. Thus, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, it was practically proved that the field was the world, and the sphere of the new dispensation universal.

 

But to Paul especially was granted very clear light on the relation of this new Gentile age to the past and to the future of Judaism, and his dispensational program is peculiarly distinct. He intensely loved his people, and highly appreciated their peculiar privileges. But he recognized frankly in his letter to the Romans that as a nation they had ?stumbled, ? that Christ had been to them ?a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, ? that they had proved themselves to be ?a disobedient and gainsaying people.? He announced that though God had not cast them away for ever, they had for the time fallen, and been ?broken off? as branches from the olive tree of promise, because of their unbelief, and been made an illustration of ?the severity of God.? But that, on the other hand, though blindness had befallen the nation as such, there was even then ?a remnant according to the election of grace, ? and that ultimately (if they abode not still in unbelief) they would be grafted again into their own olive tree, clearly predicting ?so all Israel shall be saved.? He foretells also that this crisis of their recovery would be the riches of the world at large, and like ?life from the dead? to mankind in general. If the blessing that had come to the Gentiles through their fall was great, that which should result from their restoration would be far greater. {#Ro 11}

 

In the meantime, he says that through their fall salvation had come to the Gentiles. Blindness in part had happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should be come in. The interval of Jewish rejection was to be filled up with a gathering out of a Gentile Church. Is not this revelation harmonious with what Christ had previously intimated in His parable of the vineyard taken from the wicked husband-men and given to others, and is not the limit which He fixed in Luke xxi. again laid down here? He said, ?until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, ? and Paul says, ?until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.? Similarly, in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that a veil is on the heart of Israel when Moses is read, and that only when their heart shall turn to the Lord will that veil, or blindness, be removed. Israel?s repentance is the antecedent to the earthly kingdom of God promised to them, and to the world, and the salvation of a Gentile Church is the antecedent to Israel?s repentance. This is Paul?s program, and it agrees with the outline of Christ.

 

II. THE SECOND DISTINGUISHING FEATURE OF THE APOSTOLIC PROGRAM OF THE FUTURE IS THE FOREVIEW OF THE TRUE CHURCH AS GIVEN BY PAUL, AND BY

 

PAUL ONLY.

 

It is an enlargement or development of our Lord?s final and all-important revelation, that the Holy Spirit of God would in future dwell in and abide with the disciples. The further unfolding of this great subject was committed, not to Peter, James, or John, who had been with Christ in His mission to Israel, and whose ministry was mostly confined to the Jews, but to the one who knew Him only in His glory, and who was in a special sense the founder of the Church among the Gentiles.

 

It is important to note that St. Paul distinctly and repeatedly claims to have received a special ministry, to have been commissioned to reveal what had previously been concealed from the beginning of the word. No assertions could be more emphatic than his reiterated declarations on this point. There is nothing like them in the Bible; no other apostle uses language at all similar. Paul, we learn, was chosen by God to be the channel through which He would communicate to mena new conceptionthe revelation of a new and quite peculiar relationship to Himself He was the messenger through whom a new calling or ?vocation? was expounded. This plainly stated fact is not so generally understood as it should be, though ignorance or confusion on the point, a non-recognition of the absolute noveltyat the time it was givenof this Pauline revelation, leads to many and most serious mistakes as regards the revealed purposes of God, as we will presently show. Meantime, let us gather from the following sentences what the new revelation was, and let us also note the insistence of the apostle as to the fact that it was new. ?God, ? he says, ?BY REVELATION MADE KNOWN UNTO ME the mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, ... to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God? (Eph. iii. 310).

 

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says he was made a minister of the gospel of Christ ?for his body?s sake, which is the Church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil? (or fully to preach) ?the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is C?hrist in you, the hope of glory? (Col.i: 24-27.)

 

Again, in closing his long letter to the Romans, he says:

 

?Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, ... the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest?.

 

{#Ro 16:25, 26}

 

These sentences, addressed respectively to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans, all three Gentile Churches, sufficiently attest

 

1. That there was a special element in Paul?s Gospel which was of a new and additional character.

 

2. That this new revelation had been by God kept secret until that time; it was a mystery hidden from all previous ages and generations, something entirely new.

 

3. That it is something, therefore, which we cannot find either in the prophets of the Old Testament, or in the Gospels, or in the teachings of the other apostles, something we must learn from Paul alone, to whom, in the Divine wisdom, a stewardship of this ?mystery? was committed, so that through him it was, for the first time, ?manifested, ? or revealed.

 

Let us observe, first, this is a striking instance of progressive revelation. We have here the unquestionable assertion of a principle which is of supreme importance to a correct understanding of the Scriptures. For thousands of years God had been revealing His will and His purposes ever more and more clearly to mankind. He had but lately spoken by His own Son, and since then by His Spirit in Peter and John, Philip and Stephen, James and Jude. Yet here was a new and most important revelation committed to Paul.

 

What should we learn from this fact? The duty of not attempting to limit later prophecies by earlier, of not doubting a Divine revelation because it is given subsequently to others and contains additional matter, and especially of not making confusion by saying, ? This new thing is the same as the old.? The ascended Savior committed to Paul something He had not committed to the twelve, something not to be found either in the Gospels or in the Old Testament, something which had been ?a mystery? in all previous ages and generations.

 

What then was this new revelation, which Paul calls ?my gospel, ? and says he was specially commissioned to preach among the Gentiles?

 

It was that of the Church, it was the revelation that a vital, spiritual, organic union existed between the ascended Savior and all His believing people, whether Jew or Gentile, so that they together formed ONE BODY, OF WHICH HE WAS THE LIVING HEAD.

 

Was not this revelation peculiar to Paul? Can the doctrine be found anywhere else save in his Epistles? This conception of one body composed of the God-man, ie., divine since His exaltation, but perfect man during first advent, not both at the same time, - Ed.) Jesus Christ,

 

and redeemed men and women, whether Jew or Gentile, can nowhere else be found. Paul only presents it, but he does so constantly. He dwells much on its varied, deeply important, present, practical consequences, and traces it also to its glorious results in the future.

 

How had he learned this great truth? The very circumstances of his conversion had been a revelation of it! The position of Christ at the time, the glory from amid which He had called the zealous Pharisee breathing out threatenings and slaughter, the question which he had addressed to him, all these were in themselves an unveiling of the mystery. For the glorified Christ had identified Himself with His suffering saints on earth, as the head with the members of the body. He had said to Saul of Tarsus, who had been persecuting men and women on earth: ? Why persecutest thou ME?? That was a revelation of oneness. And He had then sent the new apostle to bear His name before ?the Gentiles and kings, and children of Israel, ? not excluding the latter, but giving them no pre-eminence. How natural then for Paul to understand and teach first that the members of the Church are vitally connected with the risen Christ, and that Jews and Gentiles are alike called to fellowship with Him, and with each other in Him. A more formal and explicit revelation may have been and probably was made to Paul on the subject, though no particulars of it are recorded. But the circumstances of his call to the apostolate were in themselves almost sufficient.

 

We must now consider a little more fully what this Pauline doctrine of the Church was, what it involved. ?The Church, which is HIS BODY, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.? What does this mean? How was it a new revelation?

 

To answer these questions we must ask anotherWhat is a body? It is an organized whole, made up of parts and members? It is the temple of a spirita living temple; it is the visible dwelling of the invisible soul, the material house of the immaterial mind; it is an organic unity, not a mere collection of separate individuals, like a nation or other community. The Church is a Spirit-born and Spirit-governed body, whose Head is a risen and exalted Savior, whose very life is Christ; a body to every member of which He says, ?Because I live, ye shall live also.? It is a body controlled by internal spiritual intelligence and vitality, not by external laws and regulations merely; it is a community in which nothing is lacking and nothing superfluous, but in which each member is necessary; an organization in which there is the greatest diversity of gifts for the well-being of the whole, and all under the control of the Head. As a living body, it is, moreover, separazied from all else, it may grow, develop, and change, but it remains still the same distinct entity. ?Now ye are THE BODY OF CHRIST, and members in particular.?

 

It is easy to see that this new truth is closely connected with our Savior?s earlier revelation of the advent and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but it goes beyond it, showing results of that indwelling, which He did not develop and define, though in His parable of the vine and its branches, and in the prayer which followed, He anticipated some of them.

 

Now the Pauline revelation is that the new dispensation of Providence inaugurated at Pentecost and by the descent of the Holy Spirit, was characterized and distinguished from all previous dispensations by the existence of such a body composed of the risen Christ and all true believers.

 

He represents this body as having been formed for the first time, not by Christ?s advent and call of the twelve, not by the group of disciples which gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, but by the effusion of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. {#1Co 12:13} And he represents it as continuing on earth until ?the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain? (i.e., the then existing generation of the Church) ?shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.? Hence, until the glorious advent of Christ at the end of this age, until the resurrection of those that are Christ?s at His coming, there was to be on earth a Church which would be vitally united to Christ. There was to be, in other words, not merely the Christendom which Christ had predicted in the parables, with its tares, its foolish builders, and its unfaithful servants, but a body of Christ, of which nothing spurious, nothing evil, nothing dead, could ever form part, but only those between whom and the Divine, yet human, Head there existed a bond of life;only those in whom the Holy Spirit dwelt abidingly; for ?if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His ?no member of this wonderful, living body.

 

Here, then, we have the crowning prophetic revelation of the Apostle Paul, The dispensation then commencing would, it is true, be marked by the substitution of one outward constitution of things for anotherof Christendom for Judaism, of a professing Christian world for the Jewish and heathen worlds of the first century; but in the midst of that mixed state of things there would be something very different, a new thing in the earth, a new incarnation of Deity, THE BODY OF CHRIST, a true and living Church, its Head in heaven, its members here, its animating spirit Divine, its earthly form human. This revelation, be it observed, is something wholly distinct from any mere call of the Gentiles to share Jewish blessings. That call had been distinctly predicted in the Old Testament; even from Abraham?s day it had been promised that, not his own family only, but all the nations of the earth should be blessed in his seed, which is Christ. The new revelation is something wholly different, or it could never have been spoken of as a mystery hidden from all previous generations.

 

Peter had received and taught the call of the Gentiles; and the Church at Jerusalem, after hearing his account of Cornelius, had admitted that God had ?to Gentiles also granted repentance unto life.? They perceivedfor facts proved it that Gentiles were to share in Christ?s salvation. That was not, therefore, Paul?s new and distinctive gospel. It was not that Gentiles were to come into a Jewish faith, or share Israel?s privileges merely, but that out from among Jews and Gentiles alike individuals would be gathered and formed into a new organization, a body of which Christ was the Head, and the Spirit of God the life. This truth is fully and frequently asserted in Paul?s Epistles, and was no doubt very prominent in his preaching. In writing to the Colossians, and enumerating some of the glories of Christ, he says: ?He is before all things, and by Him all things consist; and He is the Head of His body, the Church.? {#Col 1:18} In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, he dwells very fully on the subject, showing that the phenomena of spiritual life in the Church correspond very closely with those of physical life in the natural body. ?For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less able, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. NOW YE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND MEMBERS IN PARTICULAR.? {#1Co 12:12-27}

 

Sixteen times over in this one passage is ?the body? mentioned, and so perfect is the union, so complete the identification, that the words ?so also is Christ? speak-wondrous fact!of the Head and all His members under that one name!

 

In the Epistle to the Ephesians (chap. v.) the apostle presents the same truth, that the Church is the body of Christ, under a somewhat different form, speaking of it as ?the bride? which He loved and for which He sacrificed Himself, and arguing that man and wife are one, that ?he that loveth his wife loveth himself, ? and that though it is a great mystery, this is so as regards Christ and the Church, ?for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.?

 

It is clear, then, if we combine into one program our Lord?s earlier predictions of the kingdom of heaven with Paul?s revelations as to the bride and body of Christ, that two greatest and most characteristic features of the Christian dispensation of the last 1, 800 years were foreseen and foretold in the first century of the era. Christ foretold the history of CHRISTENDOM, and Paul unveiled the mystery of the TRUE CHURCH. {#Eph 5:32 1Co 15:51, 1Th 4:15}

 

{In #Mt 16:18, our Lord uses the word ecclesia, which we translate Church. It was one in common secular use at the time, meaning a gathering out of any kind. It had not acquired the distinctly religious meaning which we now apply to it. So that our Lord?s prophecy that the doctrine of His own Messiahship and Divinity which Peter had just confessed would be the rock on which He would in the future build His Church, was no revelation to the disciples of the true nature of that Church as His own Body and Bride. He used the expression, but He did not define the reality.}

 

The two things are as distinct as the kernel of the nut from its shell, as the outer nature from the inner core. The firstChristendom, the professing Churchis the sphere in which the preaching of the word has taken effect as distinguished from heathendom, which has scarcely heard the gospel. In this sphere there is, and always has been, a twofold resultgood and bad, false and true, profession and reality. That is one thing. On the other hand, from that sphere has been gathered out, by the action of the Spirit of God, A BODY which, although invisible as such, has yet made its presence and power felt in the world. It has been the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the teacher of heathendom, the transformer of the Roman society of the first century to the Christian society of the nineteenth. It has been the mother of the multitudes, which no man can number, who have already joined the glorified Head in heaven. It has been the pillar and ground of the truth, the body through which Christ has acted in the world for the last 1, 800 years. Through its eyes He has seen and wept over the sins and sorrows of men through its heart, moved with compassion, He has healed, and fed, and taught, and saved; through its lips He has uttered the invitation, ?Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?; by its feet He has gone into all the world, and proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation among all nations. In its actions He has glorified God on the earth, and in its sufferings He has continued to manifest His own self-sacrificing love. Yes in spite of the false pretensions of all who merely profess

 

His name, in spite even of the inconsistencies, errors, and sins of true believers, there has been a body of Christ on earth ever since Pentecost, and it is here still. Was not Stephen a member of it when he said of his murderers, ?Lord, lay not this sin to their charge~?? Was not Paul a member of it when he said, ?I, yet not I, but Christ that dwelleth in me?? Were not the martyrs, who died that they might not worship idols, members of it? Have not the very thoughts and tones of Christ been heard hundreds of times since He personally left the earth? Are we not ourselves true believers, conscious of a heavenly life, a Divine spirit indwelling and influencing usa fellowship with each other and with our Head in heaven?

 

As surely as Christ?s predictions of Christendom have come to pass, so surely has the Pauline program of a body of Christ on earth, during the age which opened at Pentecost, been realized in human history. It has been sustained amid persecution, preserved amid corruption, revived even when apparently dead, and enabled to withstand all the fiery darts of the wicked. The gates of hell have not prevailed against it, and after 1, 800 years of perils from without and from within, it is more conspicuous by its action on the world now than ever before. This is not only a miracle of grace, but a marvel of history, and a marked fulfillment of Pauline prediction.

 

APOSTOLIC PREDICTIONS OF THE APOSTASY.

 

Paulthe apostle who was commissioned to unfold the hidden mystery of the vital union of Christ and His members, the mystery of the true Churchwas, inspired also to reveal a second and strangely contrasted ?mystery, ? the mystery of the false Church, or great apostasy of the Chris- tian religion. He does this especially in his first letter to Timothy and in his second letter to the Thessalonians. His words are as follows

 

? Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth?. {#1Ti 4:13}

 

In his letter to Thessalonica, Paul tells them that the second advent of Christ will not take place ?Except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Re- member ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved? (2 Thess. ii. 310).

 

These passages are evidently prophetic; they predict what had not come to pass at the time they were written, what was to happen later on, ?in the latter times? of the dispen- sation. Hence it falls within the scope of our investigation to ask, Have these predictions been fulfilled? Before ad- ducing the facts which constitute the reply, we must conjoin with these Pauline notices of the great apostasy John?s more detailed though symbolic prediction of it, as it will be con- venient to consider the apostolic outline of this subject as a whole. If two artists have painted portraits of the same individual, one giving the face only, and the other the full figure, any question of identification will be best decided by an examination of both. In the symbolic language of the Apocalypse the true Church is described as ?the bride, the Lamb?s wife, ? and as clad in fine linen, clean and white. She is also seen under a second figuration as the heavenly Jerusalem. The false Church is also represented as a woman and as a city, but of wonderfully contrasted character.

 

?And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns, And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH, And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration?. {#Re 17:16}

 

John wondered at this vision, and the angel interpreted for him its leading features, as follows ?I will tell thee the mystery of the woman.... The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth;... the waters are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues, ... and the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.? The last verb is in the present tense, implying that the city was regnant at the time when the angel spoke to John, AD. 96, i.e., in the days of Domitian. Now, as the bride and the heavenly Jerusalem represent the true Church, this harlot, who is also called ?Mystery, Babylon the Great, ? represents a false Church.

 

These prophecies present two broadly contrasted women, identified with two broadly contrasted cities, one reality being in each case doubly represented as a woman and as a city. the harlot and Babylon are one; the bride and the heavenly Jerusalem are one. It is evident that the true interpretation of either of these double prefigurations must afford a clue to the true interpretation of the other. The two women are contrasted in every particular that is mentioned about them: the one is pure as purity itself, ?made ready? and fit for heaven?s unsullied holiness; the other foul as corruption could make her, fit only for the fires of destruction. The one belongs to the Lamb, who loves her as the bridegroom loves the bride; the other is associated with a wild beast, and with the kings of the earth, who ultimately hate and destroy her. The one is clothed with fine linen, and in another place is said to be clothed with the sun, and crowned with a coronet of starsthat is, robed in Divine righteousness, and resplendent with heavenly glory; the other is attired in scarlet and gold, in jewels and pearls, gorgeous, indeed, but with earthly splendour only. The one is represented as a chaste virgin, espoused to Christ; the other is mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. The one is persecuted, pressed hard by the dragon, driven into the wilderness, and well-nigh overwhelmed; the other is drunken with martyr blood, and seated on a beast which has received its power from the persecuting dragon. The one sojourns in solitude in the wilderness; the other reigns ?in the wilderness? over peoples, and nations, and kindreds, and tongues. The one goes in with the Lamb to the marriage supper, amid the glad hallelujahs of heaven; the other is stripped, insulted, torn, and destroyed by her guilty paramours. We lose sight of the bride amid the effulgence of heavenly glory and joy, and of the harlot amid the gloom and darkness of the smoke that ?rose up for ever and ever.? It is impossible to find in Scripture a contrast more marked; and the conclusion is irresistible, that whatever the one may represent the other must prefigure its opposite. They are not two disconnected visions, but a paira pair associated, not by likeness, but by contrast. Now Scripture leaves us in no doubt as to the signification of the emblematic bride, the Lamb?s wife, the heavenly Jerusalem. What, then, must the contrasted symbol, the Babylonian harlot, represent? Surely some false and apostate churchsome Church which, while professing to belong to Christ, is in reality given up to fellowship with the world, and linked in closest union with the kings of the earth; a worldly Church, which has left her first love, forgotten her heavenly calling, sunk into carnality and sin, and proved shamelessly and glaringly faithless to her Lord.?Approaching End of the Age, ? pp. 143145.

 

Hence John presents the same contrast as Paul. For the apostasy which the latter describes as headed up in ?the man of sin? was an organization contrasted in every respect to the true bride and body of Christ. It was one which would owe its origin and existence to ?the working of Satan, ? instead of to the operation of the Spirit of God. It was a mystery of iniquity, ? instead of a mystery hid in God its votaries are ?wicked, ? full of lying, of deceivableness, of unrighteousness; deluded and unbelieving, instead of being fruitful in every good work, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. It has a mere earthly human head instead of a Divine and heavenly one; and its ultimate destiny is ?everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord? at His second coming, instead of the rapture to be ?for ever with the Lord? which awaits the true Church at that crisis. Both apostles thus predict that there will arise in the course of the Christian dispensation an ecclesiastical organization like the true Church in some respects, but utterly unlike it in others, possessing the features of a worthless imitation, and produced by Satan to oppose and counter- work Christ and the true Church. Now this was a strange prediction. It would have been natural to foresee for the Church Jewish opposition, or heathen opposition, or even general declension and back- sliding. But Christian opposition! that was something which human intelligence would never have surmised as possible in the apostolic era. That the Christian Church should ever reign over the kings and nations of the world at all seemed extremely improbable. But that, being so exalted, its influence should be for evil, and not for good, used to oppose Christ and His true witnesses, that would have seemed well-nigh incredible! An evil world? Yes But an evil Church? That was no native idea in Paul or in John! It was inspiration that foretold the actual though most improbable future. True, Christ had Himself predicted that Christendom would present a mixed condition of wheat and tares, good and bad; but this is something very different. It is a revelation that just as out of the incoherent mass of a Christianized world there would be gathered, by the working of Christ?s Holy Spirit, a true Church, so out of the same mass would be also gathered, by the working of Satan, a false Church. This last would equally with the first be an organic unity, something different from a number of individual false professors, scattered all over Christendom like tares in a wheat-field. It would be one whole, a body with a head, which would govern and direct all its movements. But as no bond of true spiritual life would exist between its members, as in the case of the true Church, this body would have visible bonds of outward uniformities to unite each to all and all to the head. Moreover, this false Church would also be in some sense a bride. Not the chaste and beloved bride of Christ, joined to the Lord in one spirit, but a corrupt, faithless, worthless ?harlot, ? selling herself to the kings of the earth for filthy lucre, until by them detested and destroyed prior to being whelmed under Divine judg- ments at the second advent of Christ.

 

It would be a counter ?mystery, ? a Satanic parody of God?s true Church. And its head would be a counter-Christ, an anti-Christ, not by opposition, but by imitation, not by fighting against Christ, but by substituting himself for Christ, putting himself in Christ?s place, making men regard him as Christ?s vicegerent. Just as the real Church would be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, so this false Church would be the leaven of the earth, corrupting it more than it is naturally corrupted, and would obscure the gospel light, love darkness, teach lies, and deny the truth. So far from witnessing for Christ, she would kill His witnesses; and so far from shedding her own blood for His sake, she would drink herself drunken with the blood of His martyrs. Moreover, and this is a most important point, the existence of this false Church with its sinful human headthis imitation Church born of the working of Satanwould run parallel with the existence of the true Church; it would form the most conspicuous of the dangers and difficulties of the saints of God during the Christian dispensation. Its incipient workings were already apparent in the days of Paul; they would never cease until they produced, in his full-blown iniquity, ?the man of sin, ? or human head of this false Church, and he would continue his career of blasphemous self-exaltation until destroyed by the second advent. Thus the entire interval from Paul?s day to the end of this age at the return of Christ, would be occupied by the rise, culmination, reign, and decay of this corrupt Church system and its head. No time of peace and purity, no age of truth and righteousness, could consequently be expected. The reign of ?the man of sin, ? the rule of a false and persecuting Church, a Satanic propagation of delusion and error, this was the future which the apostles foretoldthis, and nothing but this, until Christ comes again, and His people are caught up to meet Him in the air.

 

Our subject here forbids us to do more than make a passing reference to the strange fact that while this is unquestionably the apostolic program, the Church has so neglected its predictions as positively to have come to expect a state and age of millennial blessedness before the return of Christ No prediction of such an age can be found in the New Testament program. On the contrary, it uniformly presents the interval as one filled with most un-millennial characteristicswars, famines, blood- shed, persecution of the truth, sackcloth witnessing, Jerusalem trodden down, the Jews dispersed, the leaven working corruption, the anti-Christ tyrannizing, iniquity abounding, love growing cold, faith failing, the virgins slumbering, the servants, many of them unfaithful, scoffers mocking, perilous times, even in the last days; and the question asked is, ? When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?? Where in such an age shall we place a millennium? Our New Testament program never speaks of one at all until after the return of Christ, consequently the second advent must bepre-millennial. Could the Holy Spirit have omitted the prediction of a prolonged age of purity and peace, if such were to come before the return of Christ? Why, it would have been naturally the most prominent feature of the program! But He places the second advent, not the millennium, before the Church, as its hope. This advent closes the existing Christian age. The millennial age is a distinct one, beginning with the advent. This is, however, a question of unfulfilled prophecy, and hence beyond our subject here. Those who wish to consider it are referred to our work on ?The Approaching End of the Age.?

 

The apostolic predictions of this apostate Church are copious. They comprise more points than space will permit us to take up here. As our argument is evidential and not controversial, it will suffice if we show that an organization of immense importance, calling itself a Christian Church, and answering to every feature of these prophetic portraits, came into existence centuries after the prophecy was given, rose to a position of supremacy in the earth, ruled and reigned for ages, and exists in a decadent state to this day, awaiting the just judgment of God. As the prediction of this apostasy is but one feature of one section of our program, we can give but a few pages to its consideration; less than the immense evidential value of the fulfillment demands, but sufficient, we trust, to prove that it has been fulfilled. Combining, then, the features of these two apostolic pre- dictions, what is foretold in relation to the great apostasy of the Christian dispensation as to

 

1. The place where it should arise.

 

2. The historic juncture at which it would appear.

 

3. The period which it would last.

 

4. The political relations it would sustain.

 

5. The moral character of its influence.

 

6. The agents by which it will be wasted.

 

7. The climax at which it will be destroyed.

 

Now, just as in looking for a certain place on the map we take its latitude and longitude from the table, and at the point where the two intersect find the spot we seek; or as in searching the heavens for a certain star we learn first its right ascension, and then its declination, and are thus guided to its exact position;so the intersection of all the above lines cannot fail to enable us correctly to apply this complicated prophecy; and the application gives us the fulfillment. If at the place and in the sphere indicated, there arose at the predicted juncture an ecclesiastical power which has lasted for the period and stood in the political relations prophesied, which has borne the moral character and done the deeds foretold; if it has been gradually undermined and consumed by the very agents described, can we doubt that we have found the power intended? The last point, the climax of its destruction, is still future. If all the other lines intersect in one and the same organization, and in no other, it must be the fulfillment we seek. Our point here is neither controversial nor theological, but simply evidential. If the result of search for a fulfillment leads us, as it inevitably must do, to stigmatize a certain ecclesiastical power as the great predicted apostasy, that is an incidental result only in this place; as the prophecy predicts an apostasy, the historic fulfillment, when discovered, must of course lie an apostasy. We glance, then, over the whole eighteen Christian ages looking for the predicted apostasy, for a great, long-lasting, mighty, influential, reigning ecclesiastical power calling itself the Church of Christ. We see many Churchesthe ?Catholic? Church, the Greek Church, the old Armenian and Nestorian and Coptic Churches, the young Protestant Churches of many lands. Many of them are grossly corrupted, some of them are decayed, half-dead. Which is THE great apostasy? Which is the false Church par excellence, the great enemy, the principal and cruel foe of the true Church, of that invisible ?body? consisting of all true saints? The apostolic predictions say you will find it seated at a certain place, and that place the seven-hilled city which reigned over the kings of the earth in John?s dayROME. Now we have our longitude! Turning away, therefore, from all Churches which have not had their centers at Rome, we fix our attention on those that have. We note that the apostles themselves planted a Church there, and that throughout the pagan persecutions that Roman Church yielded crop after crop of blessed martyrs, who fought and died in the Colosseum and other amphitheatres of the city, who were burned for Jesus? sake on its lamp-posts, and whose ashes were laid in the dark catacombs, ?in peace, ? ?in hope, ? ?in love.? Could this early Churchbefore the conversion of Constantinebe the apostasy? or can the young Protestant communities which have grown up in Rome of late years, can they be the Church of Rome which we seek? We want our latitude as well as our longitude. The predictions give it. The great apostasy was to arise at a certain juncture of history in that notable period of time when the old Roman empire of the Caesars was just breaking up under the barbarian invasions, and when the young Romano-Gothic kingdoms were forming out of the fragments; that is, during the sixth and seventh centuries. The Western empire fell when Romulus Augustulus was persuaded by Odoacer to abdicate, A.D. 476; and the settlement of the new kingdoms which emerged from the flood occupied at least a couple of centuries. Hence the martyr Church of the first three centuries, though it was a Church of Rome, will not at all fit the prediction, nor will the modern Protestant Church there, since it only rose this century. But there is a Church which, according to its own account of itself, exactly answers to this test. It is the Church of Rome, which began at that very period, has ruled all Europe from Rome for twelve centuries, and whose head is called the Pope of Rome. The prophecy shows that the head of this apostate Church would be a temporal sovereign as well as a chief priest. Cardinal Manning?s ?Origin of the Temporal Power of the Popes? traces it back to the historical juncture in question, and shows that the simple primitive bishops of the local Roman Church grew into popes after the fall of Romulus Augustulus, in consequence of the absence of imperial rulers in Rome. So Paul said, alluding to the then existing imperial dynasty, ?He who letteth will let? (or that which hinders will hinder) ?until he be taken out of the way? (or providentially removed). ?And then shall that Wicked? (the great head of the apostasy) ?be revealed.? On the removal of the imperial throne from- Rome, the papal throne took its place. The intersection, then, of these two lines of place and time withdraws our gaze from all other Churches, and proves that we must seek the fulfillment of all the other features of the prophetic portrait in THE PAPAL CHURCH OF ROME.

 

And here we must make a distinction, and quote one more prediction to make the matter clear. There is a great difference between a body and its head. We must distinguish between the papacy or papal dynastywhich is the head of the Church of Romeand the Church which it founded, governed, and used as its tool. There is a difference similar in kind, though greater in degree, between the Head of the true Church and the Church which He founded, governs, and uses as His instrument to do His will in the world. Now the duration of the corrupt Church is never mentioned, but only that of the reign of its head. The prophecy represents this papal dynasty of temporal rulers, as it had previously symbolized other dynasties, as ?a beast, ? a head of the ten- horned Roman beast. What period does it assign to the power of this dynasty? Twelve hundred and sixty years between twelve and thirteen centuries.

 

#Re 13:5, 11:3, 12:6. The period indicated is the same in each case, 42 months of 30 days is 1, 260 days, and a day is the miniature symbol for a year, as a beast is for an empire. Daniel assigns the same period to the ?little horn ? of the Roman beast, which rules during its later history - another symbol of this power of the Roman papacy.

 

Can this period be traced in the history, not of the Romish Church, but of the reign of the papal dynasty? When did it rise? Between the two pope-exalting decrees of the Roman emperors of the East, Justinian and Phocas. Each of these potentates made a decree conceding to the bishops of Rome the head- ship ?of all the holy Churches, and of all the holy priests of God?; or, as the latter put it, ?the headship over all the Churches of Christendom.? The first was issued A.D. 533, and the second A.D. 607. The seventy-four years between these two dates was in a special sense the era of the rise of the papacy. It includes the life of the celebrated Gregory the Great, whose successor, Boniface III., may be considered in certain senses the first of the Popes.

 

To these dates add 1, 260 years, and the result is the period from A.D. 1793 to A.D. 1867. This period may be broadly considered as that of the downfall of the temporal power of the popes, the close of their reign over Europe, which had lasted for between twelve and thirteen centuries, as predicted. The first year marks the date of the reign of terror and crisis of the great French revolution, in the course of the wars of which the pope was dethroned by Bonaparte, Rome seized by the republican armies, a Roman republic proclaimed, and the pope removed from the Vatican and obliged to take refuge in Florence. In 1849 the pope (who had been re- stored) was again deposed, and a republic proclaimed; in 1860 there was an insurrection in the Papal States; in 1866 papal Austria was overthrown by Protestant Prussia at Sadowa; next year the monasteries in Venetia were suppressed, and the country annexed to the newly-formed Italian kingdom; the year after papal Spain was convulsed by a liberal revolution, and Garibaldi attempted an insurrection in Rome, which was suppressed only by French troops; while in 1870 came the great war between France and Germany, which led to the overthrow of the papal French empire, the withdrawal of her troops from Rome, and the union of Italy under Victor Emmanuel, who established his throne on the ruins of the temporal sovereignty of the popes in Rome, September, 1870.

 

Thus the series of events which ended in the complete destruction of the papal temporal sovereignty occupied a period of seventy to eighty years, removed by 1, 260 years from the similar period which witnessed its first establishment. The popes are still rulers in their own apostate Church, and will be till the end. They are no longer rulers in Europe, and never will be again. Divine prophecy limited the days of their domination, and the same year which witnessed the decree of the new and blasphemous doctrine of papal infallibility witnessed also the downfall of the papal sovereignty, which had endured for more than twelve centuries. How came John, in Patmos, in the days of Domitian, to foresee a downfall so distant? How came those events to fall out in harmony with his predictionsay, and with Daniel?s still earlier prophecy? The line of duration intersects the others in this same Church of Rome with its dynastic papal head.

 

There is an elaborate exactitude about the fulfillment of this chronological prophecy which we cannot even indicate here. The period has various termini, and is measured by lunar, calendar, and solar years, and crises of rise and fall correspond. The subject is carefully and fully treated in our work ?LIGHT FOR THE LAST DAYS.? Harley House, Bow, E C.

 

The Apostle John represents this apostate Church as corrupting the nations of the earth, and its head as ruling over them. He represents the woman as sitting upon ?many waters, ? and the angel explains that the waters are ?peoples and nations.? He represents her also as sitting on and up- borne by the Roman beastanother expression of the same thing. What was the fact? That all through the middle ages the Romano-Gothic kingdoms of Europe submitted to papal Rome, and secured to her temporal benefits, in return for her supposed spiritual favours and blessings. Enlargement is needless for those familiar with history: Rome?s domineering and tyrannical relations to the kingdoms of Europe in the past is a gigantic fact, and the cessation of that power of late is equally conspicuous.

 

The moral character attributed by the apostles to this power is exceedingly evilabout as dark as it well could be. Its main features are the practice and inculcation of idolatry under Christian names, corruption of doctrine, blasphemous self-exaltation of a man in the Christian Church, ?showing himself that he is God, ? quasi Deus, as the popes claim to be, together with false miracles and lying wonders, and, above all, sanguinary persecutions of the saints of God, and systematic opposition to His truth.

 

Were these features one and all characteristic of the false apostate Church and her papal head?

 

Let the Reformation and its copious literature reply!

 

The great fact of the secession of the sixteenth century speaks for itself, and its causes may be appreciated by a study of the burning accusations against Romish corruptions of such men as Wickliffe, Jerome of Prague, and John Huss, Tyndale and John Frith, Luther and Zwingle, Calvin and Melancthon, Cranmer, Latimer, and Hooper. The deceptions, wickednesses, and crimes of Rome are incredible, and all the more so because of her Christian profession. Her prohibition of marriage to the clergy, in opposition to the apostolic direction that a bishop should be the ?husband of one wife, ? deluged Europe with the grossest immorality for centuries. Her withdrawal of the Bible from the people, her mixture of licentiousness and formality, her saint and virgin worship, her Jesuit principles, her tortures and inquisition, what words shall describe or what mind conceive their effect in darkening and exterminating the truth of God! Well are the ages of Rome?s dominion styled ?the dark ages?!

 

In brief, the apostles predict ?a tyrannical power, of a Christian kind, to be seated at Rome, dressed in a robe of gaudy decoration; spreading its abuses and errors over the kingdoms of the earth, persecuting the Church of Christ, and deeply stained with its blood, especially that of its martyrs, its public witnesses and confessors, that same State holding a number of dependent kings under its yoke, and turning their strength and power, with their consent, to the furtherance of its designs. The complexity of the things in this single prophecy is sufficiently manifest. And since the complex whole has, point by point, been fulfilled, and that not in an obscure corner, but in the heart of Christendom, the inference is not to be evaded.?

 

And lastly, the fate which Paul predicts for this apostasy prior to its final judgment is that it shall be ?consumed? or wasted by the spirit of God?s mouth; while John foretells also that political judgments will overtake it. The ten horns will at last hate, and reject, and desolate the whore they have so long carried and supported.

 

This double prediction has been fulfilling for the last 300 years. The recovered word of Godthe ?spirit of His mouth?was the cause of the Reformationa movement that diminished and consumed Rome to an enormous extent. PriorJust prior to the beginning of the Reformation there was not for a brief time a single witnessing Church in Europe. They had all been exterminated by persecution. There was not an avowed meeting of protesters against Rome?s corruptions anywhere. Now {1888} there are about a hundred and fifty millions of Protestants in the world! Rome?s dominion was all but universal in Christendom in the sixteenth century, in the nineteenth nearly half Christendom (omitting the Greek Church) has escaped her tyranny, rejected her corruptions, and spurns her intoxicating cup. That is one fact; and another is, that even nations which remain in Romish darkness have, ever since the French revolution, been throwing off the yoke of Rome?s authority, refusing her guidance, secularizing her revenues, closing her monasteries, expelling her Jesuits, neglecting her confessionals, and ridiculing her pretensions. Infidelity, as well as true religion, has been at work for her overthrow. The spirit of God?s mouth on the one hand, and the revolt of human intelligence against superstition and selfish tyranny on the other, have combined to lower the pride and abate the power of the once mighty papal dynasty; and, though its claims are as great and as blasphemous as ever, its ability to enforce them is gone.

 

All the six tests we proposed to apply concur, therefore, in showing that the papal Church of Rome has fulfilled, in the course of its long career, every feature, of these apostolic predictions, and that on a scale which, before the event, no one would have believed possible. The marks of Divine prescience in these predictions are singularly clear. ?To foretell that a religion pure and excellent as that of the gospel would in some future time be depraved was to foretell nothing improbable. For what is there so sacred in truth which the wickedness and mistakes of men, or the love of novelty, or the spirit of enthusiasm, or policy and interested designs, will not model anew, and distort from its original rectitude? Error and heresy are nearly coeval with truth. They began to work as soon as Christianity was taught, and they may be expected to attend it to its latest day of trial. But in the predictions of the corrupted state of the Christian faith, which we are now considering, there are definite signs of a foreknowledge very different from the deductions of probability, calculated on the general principles of human weakness or human depravity. The prophetic criteria are precise, and they are such as must be thought to have militated with all rational probability, rather than to have been deduced from it. For that the doctrines of celibacy, and of a ritual abstinence from meats, against the whole genius of the gospel, by an authority claiming universal obedience, should be set up in the Christian Church; that ?a man of sin? should exist, exalting himself in the temple of God, and openly challenging the rights of faith and honour due to God; that he should advance himself by signs and lying wonders, and turn his pretended miracles to the disproof and discredit of some of the chief doctrines or precepts of Christianity; and that this system of ambition and falsehood should succeed, that it should be established with the submission and, indeed, with the deluded conviction of men still holding the profession of Christianity, which is the prophecy of St. Paul, is a paradox of prediction which must be allowed to surpass the ordinary limit of human observation, and almost to exceed the power which man has to corrupt the best gifts of God. The natural incredibility of it is, not that such errors and abuses should be established in the world, but that they should be grafted on the Christian faith, in opposition to and in outrage of its genius and its commands, and take a bold possession of the Christian Church. There, however, they have been grafted and there they have had possession, and the strength of the im- probable fact is the proof of the prophetic inspiration.?

 

?Davidson on Prophecy? (Warburton Lecture), pp. 327, 328.

 

THE APOCALYPTIC SECTION OF THE PROGRAM.

 

We must not close our brief outline of the last, or Christian, section of the Divine program without any allusion to its most considerable documentthe Book of Revelation, the saintly John?s contribution towards the end of the first century. This last book of the Bible consists almost entirely of an apocalypse of the future; that is, of what was future in the days when Domitian was reigning in Rome, and John suffering under his cruel tyranny in the lonely island of Patmos. As in the Old Testament we have first historic books, then didactic and poetic writings, and then the volume of prophecy, containing all the extant works of sixteen different authors, so in the New we have first the four Gospels and the Book of Acts, which are historic, then the Epistles, which are didactic, devotional, and hortatory, and lastly a book of prophecy. It is true that, as we have seen, predictions of the first importance, fundamental and far-reaching in character, are scattered through both Gospels and Epistles. But the Apocalypse alone is wholly prophetic, and it thus occupies in the New Testament the place of the major and minor prophets of the Old. It finishes the book with a foreview of the then commencing, but now closing, age, including multitudes of definite particulars, and glancing on more briefly into ages yet to come. It would, therefore, be a conspicuous omission to leave the Book of Revelation entirely out of account in this last section of our program. It is a principal part of it; and as it traces beforehand the outline of the main secular and ecclesiastical events which were to occur in the sphere of the Roman earth, and as the outline has been most accurately realized in history, it would seem as if this section would serve our evidential argument even better than the previous ones. And indeed it would do so were we at liberty here to make use of it; but two reasons forbid our doing this, In the first place, the Apocalypse is, we may say, not written in our Bibles in English, but in ancient Eastern hieroglyphics. It needs therefore translation before its statements can be adduced in evidence. Those statements are nevertheless just as precise, and the predictions they embody are consequently just as capable of verification, as if they had been made in plain non-symbolic language. The key by which they are to be translated is found in Scripture itself, and the work presents no real difficulty. But it takes time. Exposition of the book must precede any evidential argument based on its prophetic statements, and for this a whole volume, rather the closing pages of one, is requisite. And, secondly, the nature of some of its principal predictions is such as to have caused the book to become a very battlefield of controversy. The Church of Rome is in it so definitely indicated and branded as apostate, that its advocates have been driven to the use of every possible expedient to avoid the application of the predictions to Rome papal, and to refer them either to Rome paganthat is, to the pastor else to some power still future, some Antichrist yet to come. This misapplication of the central prediction dislocates the rest of the visions, and introduces confusion into a prophecy conspicuous for its order. Hence a determination of the application as well as of the meaning of the predictions would be needful before any use of their fulfillment, as evidence of inspiration, could be attempted. It is true that in our last section we have employed its predictions of the apostasy as confirmatory of the plain prophecies of the Apostle Paul. But an angelic interpretation of this special point settles its application for all candid minds. The majority of the visions are not thus interpreted or applied; and hence before we could demonstrate the fulfillment of the prophecies of Patmos as a whole, the meaning of each and all of its symbols would have to be determined, and their true application proved by solid arguments. For this purpose it is evident that a separate book is required, and such a one we hope, if the Lord permit, to publish ere long, as a sequel to the present volume. It is already partially prepared, and will be completed as soon as leisure can be secured from more practical engagements. If any of our readers wish to expedite its appearance, they can do so materially by sending financial help to our large Missionary Institute, formed to assist in the evangelization of the world during the brief remainder of this dispensation. This work is an extensive and important one, and requires a large income to sustain its efficiency. To secure this demands, naturally, a very considerable share of our time and attention, so that help sent to it makes it the easier for us to use the press for the diffusion of Divine truth. We would urge Christian readers who feel the deep importance of this, in these days of doubt and unbelief to act with all the liberality they can towards our missionary enterprise. While, therefore, we can make no attempt to demonstrate in this place the fulfillment of the Apocalyptic predictions of the Apostle John, we may state in a few words the nature of the evidence they afford.

 

In the meantime we may refer to books already in existence which give, with great fullness, the historic exposition of the Apocalypse, and among these the first is, unquestionably, the learned and elaborate work of the late Rev. E. B. Elliot, in four volumes, or his briefer book, ?The Last Prophecy.

 

The Book of Revelation is an essential and integral part of Scripture, and occupies a place in the volume of prophecy which, if we had it not, would present a blank without any previous parallel. Every event of importance to the people of God and to the history of redemption had, under the old Jewish dispensation, been predicted before it occurred, as, for instance, the birth of Isaac, and of Jacob and Esau, the exaltation of Joseph in Egypt, the descent of the Israelites into Egypt, and their exodus from it; the forty years in the wilderness, the entrance to the land, the subjugation of the Canaanites, the building of the temple, the separation of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Assyrian capture of the ten tribes, and its date, the Babylonish captivity, and its date, the succession of the Persian kings, the reign of Alexander the Great, and the wars of the dynasties of Syria and Egypt, the birth, ministry, and death of Messiah, and the judgments and desolations of Jerusalem and Judea. All these events were foretold before they came to pass, as well as many others. Now the prophecies of our Lord and of the apostles as regards the Christian age did not foretell historic events in which the Church would be interested, and by which she would be vitally affected, they did not foretell her fortunes in the world so much as the deep, underlying principles of her existence, the moral character of her surroundings, and the development both of spiritual life in the true Church and gross corruption in the apostate Church. Events of an outward political character were not predicted either in the Gospels or Epistles in connection with Christian history. The fall of Jerusalem affected, of course, the early Christians, but it was essentially an event of Jewish historyits last episode. Was it not to be expected that, before the volume of inspiration was closed, a program of the eighteen Christian centuries of a more outward, definite, event-predicting kind would be given? The saints of this age would need such a one even more than the Jews of the preceding age. The wide diffusion of the Church through all lands, the great changes it was to undergo, the strange and subtle temptations it was to experience, the disguised enemies it was to encounter, the cessation of inspired guides and teachers, with John himself, the long ages to elapse before Christ?s return, all would lead us to expectjudging by analogy that the outline of the events to take place in the world in which she was destined to move, would be placed in the hands of the Church before the canon of Scripture closed. We should not expect much reference to merely political events as such, however great the world might deem them, but only to those which directly influenced the redeeming work of God in the earth, in other words, Church history. The age was to be a long one, faith and hope would be sorely tried, experience would show that the promises of Christ?s speedy return were to be understood on the scale of ?a thousand yearsas one day?; and without some orderly serial prophecy to guide the expectation and sustain the faith of the Church, there would be a danger that both might, in the course, and especially towards the close, of the age, fail. Such predictions had been given in the Jewish age; would they be withheld in the more enlightened Christian dispensation? Every analogy would lead us to expect the reverse.

 

Yet, on the other hand, Christ had made it perfectly plain that He wished every generation of His people to live in constant watchfullness for His return. To reveal plainly from the first either the events or the chronology of the Christian age would entirely have prevented this, and rendered watchfullness impossible, save for the last generation. How was the apparent difficulty to be met? How was a revelation of the future, sufficiently clear to answer all desirable purposes, to be made without being so explicit as prematurely to unfold the facts and foreseen length of this age? The problem was solved by Divine wisdom in this wonderful Apocalypse. It presents a consecutive and continuous outline of the occurrences which would take place in the outward history of the Church from John?s day to the second advent, and beyond; but it presents it in symbolic language, in a form which would veil the true meaning for a time, but would allow it to become progressively clear in the later stages of the dispensation. In its chronological statements of periods prior to the second advent, this book employs, in harmony with its general plan, the year-day system of representing the orbital or annual, by the axial or diurnal, revolution of the eartha day stands for a year. This has been proved, however, only by the lapse of time, and could not have been certainly anticipated at first. As a matter of fact, the writings of the Fathers and of the early Church show us that while the outline of the great eternal future to follow the second advent was clearly understood in early times, yet that the prophecies of this present evil age of Satanic power were scarcely comprehended at all. Light as to their meaning dawned on the Church very gradually as the centuries passed away; and not until the apostasy was fully developed was even a partial comprehension of their meaning at all widespread. With the Reformation came a great illumination as to the scale of the chronology and the scope of the prophecy, and ever since it has been increasingly understood and applied, until a recognition of its relation to, and absolute harmony with, other and earlier prophecies is common now among students of Scripture.

 

This harmony is evident, and lies so on the surface, as well as in the depths of the book, that it may be noted even by cursory readers. The Apocalypse is not isolated from the rest of the prophetic scriptures. It is intimately related to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, and agrees per- fectly with the other prophetic teachings of our Lord and His apostles in the New. As to its relation to the former the Book of Danielits subject is the same, and its symbols are the same. At the time when John lived, the three earlier empires of Daniel had passed away; but the fourth, or Roman, was in the zenith of its power, and was destined to continue in existence for nearly two thousand years. Daniel had briefly outlined its character and career under the striking symbol of the ten-horned wild beast. John enlarges the Daniel foreview, employing the same symbols. Three times over in the pages of the Apocalypse this terrible ten-horned wild beast is portrayed (chs. xii., xiii., xvii.). Moreover, the most notable feature of this wild beast as represented in Daniel, its blasphemous, persecuting ?little horn, ? whose action draws down the advent of the Ancient of Days in judgment, reappears in the Apocalypse with fuller detail and in more vivid coloring. Its rise, place, power, pride, tyranny, blasphemy, are the same; its duration as assigned in Daniel and the Apocalypse is the same, and the time and manner of its destruction are the same. This identity is indeed the principal key to the Apocalypse.

 

Secondly, the parables of our Lord are in similar agreemen with the Apocalypse. In the parables the king is seen to go into a far country to receive the investiture of his kingdom, and to return for its exercise in the Apocalypse he is seen in the heavens, and his second advent in manifested glory is symbolized and foretold, In the parables we have the marriage of the king?s son; in the Apocalypse ?the marriage of the Lamb.? In the parables the virgins are awakened by the midnight cry, ?Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye forth to meet him?; in the Apocalypse the advent is represented together with its accompanying events, In the parables the conduct of the faithful and faithless servants is described, and the reward of their respective works; in the Apocalypse we see the two classes and the issues of their acts. The Lord comes, and His reward is with Him, and He gives every man according to his works. The lesson of the parables as to the kingdom which is the everlasting recompense of faithful service is repeated in the Apocalypse, with a fullness of detail and splendour of imagery peculiarly its own.

 

The same harmony is traceable between the prophetic teachings of the apostles of our Lord and those of this final New Testament prophecy. The oft-repeated warnings and predictions occurring in the Epistles of Paul with reference to the great apostasy which was to take place in the Church of Christpredictions echoed more or less clearly and emphatically by all the apostlesare confirmed by the wonderful Apocalyptic symbolization of that apostasy, especially that part of it which portrays its connection with Rome, and the persecution of Christ?s faithful witnesses by the apostate Church. So Jude?s prophecy of the advent of Christ in judgment on the ungodly (quoted from Enoch, ?the seventh from Adam ?) is in harmony with the detailed vision of that advent and of that judgment in the Apocalypse; and so also Peter?s prophecy of the new heavens and the new earth. The Book of Revelation enlarges this last into the exquisite imagery of its twenty-first and twenty-second chapters, adding a multitude of details, of definite features, entirely omitted in Peter?s earlier prediction of the ultimate issue of Divine Providence and of the eternal state of mankind. The object of this final prophecy of Scripture was not, however, mainly to reveal more of the advent and post-advent events than had been previously revealed, but to unfold those of the interval which was to precede the advent. The closing section of the book, from chapter xix. onwards, relates, it is true, to what is still future; but the previous prophetic portion of Revelation, comprising twelve or thirteen chapters, is fulfilled and not unfulfilled, prophecy. It was announced to John as a revelation of ?things that must shortly come to pass?; and of some of them it was said ?the time is at hand.? Accordingly, it has a series of consecutive visionsas we can only state, without attempting to prove, at this timeof the glory and prosperity of the empire of Rome under the Antonines in the second century, of its military and fiscal troubles in the third century, and of the terrible famines and pestilences which followed; of the prolonged pagan persecutions of the early Church, and of the noble army of martyrs under them; of their triumph and patience, and of the great revolution, unparalleled in the Roman earth, when paganism was proscribed and the empire became Christian. It traces then the rapid development of the professing Church, and marks the contrast between it and the true Church, and subsequently it follows out the fortunes of the Roman empire, in which the young Church had to develop. It presents, under the symbols of the four first trumpets, the series of tremendous judgments under which the empire went to pieces in the Gothic, Hunnish, and Vandal invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries the rise and career of the great Mohammedan power in the Eastern empire, first, under its Saracenic, and then under its Turkish form; and the coincident rise among the Gothic kingdoms of the West of a revived power of Rome, of a rule ecclesiastic in nature, blasphemous, corrupting, idolatrous, and persecut- ing in character, connected with the apostate Church of which it is the head. It recounts by anticipation the exist- ence, during the tyranny of this revived Roman power, of witnesses for Christ, who would, throughout its career, protest against its assumptions, and suffer even unto death from its wild-beast-like cruelty; of the sudden resurrection of these slain witnesses at the era of the Reformation, and of the rise of powerful Protestant nations soon after that revival of primitive Christianity. Then it goes on to portray the outpouring of judgments of a consuming character on the papal power itself, as was fulfilled in the French revolution and in all the subsequent anti-papal revolutions of this century; also the similar preparatory consumption and decay of the Turkish, or Ottoman, power, even to the verge of extinction; and, lastly, a great final revolution in Europe, ending in the fall of Babylon, or Rome papal, and of Rome itself, immediately prior to the marriage of the Lamb, or second advent of Christ. At this point the fulfilled glides into the unfulfilled, and it is a point to which history has almost brought us.

 

Thus the special office of the Book of Revelation in the Divine program of the world?s history, is to unfold to the people of God in this dispensation the outline of the history of the Church in the world, from the beginning of the second century to the end of the agethe period of Israel?s rejection and dispersionthe eighteen Christian centuries. It also describes the great crisis at which this age melts into the next following, or millennial age, much more in detail than any previous prophecy, presenting in their order its successive incidents; and it adds some particulars of the later crisis at its close, through which that age passes into the eternal state or new heavens and new earth. From this last portion must be learned, rather than from any earlier and less orderly prophecy, the sequence and succession of the closing episodes of the story of human redemption. By its position as the last part of the last section of the program it has the authority of a final statement from Christ of what His Church is to look for, and it closes with the words: ?Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.? ?Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!?

 

To sum up our argument from the New Testament section of the Divine program A fresh outburst of light from heaven took place in the first century of our era. An entirely new view of the then approaching and commencing future was given to the people of God on earth. The essential facts on which that new future depended were not only foretold, but in the course of that century accomplished. The amount of fresh light im- parted at this time may be estimated by contrasting the hopes and expectations of Mary and Elisabeth, Simeon and Anna, Zacharias and John the Baptist, at the beginning of the century, with those of Paul the aged, and of the saintly Apostle John, at its close. Israel and her fortunes filled the view of the former; ?every creature under heaven? ?all the world ??all nations and kindreds, and peoples and tongues?that of the latter. A human, yet superhuman, Messiah to be born, and to deliver the Jews, was the expectation of the first group; a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior of the world, to come again in power and great gloryof the second. The foretold and fulfilled fact, of Israel?s rejection of Christ, had made the great change, and the Christian program revealed the amazing difference between the results which had been expected and those which would actually ensue. It sketched clearly, though in outline only, the fortunes of the Jewish nation, of the Roman world, of the true Church, of the false Church, and of the papal dynasty which would rule it. It gave consequently a most comprehensive and, at the same time, a most definite foreview of the main historic features of the dispensation then beginning and now drawing to a close. This anticipative outline was entirely new and original in most of its features, though it harmonized with that of Daniel in others. It could not have been sketched from analogy or from memory, for it resembled nothing in the past. It was drawn by Jewish pens, and yet it was diametrically opposed to Jewish anticipations. It could not be imaginative, for it was full of definite, yet most unlikely, predictions, embracing a vast variety of historical episodes affecting millions of man-kind for many ages, and history has actually fulfilled them all.

 

The facts now inscribed in order on the records of the past were noted, and that in the same order, in this program of the future. The great difference between the two is that the former gives in detail what has been; the latter, only in outline and principle, what would be. As a great philosopher goes behind phenomena in quest of law, and sums up countless facts in one great formula or statement of underlying principle, so the revealing spirit, passing by the multitudinous and often confusing details of history, includes volumes in a verse, and ages in an expression, seizing for prediction only the fundamental feature which associates innumerable earthly events.

 

Thus our Lord, for instance, traced clearly on the chart of the then opening age which He drew two great broadly divergent streams of events as resulting from His own death and resurrection. He no more paused to specify particulars than a geographer would to mark the trees and bushes on the banks of the great river whose course he indicates by a certain line. The traveller who descends the river estimates the geographer?s knowledge of it by the correspondence of its general direction from its source to the ocean, not by the unavoidable absence of detail. It would be ten thousand chances to one, as all experience proves, that the true windings of the stream could have been rightly indicated by a stranger to the country. So the omission of minor particulars in no wise invalidates the evidence of inspiration afforded by predictions which are clearly correct when compared with the general course of events extending over ages.

 

What were the two streams laid down thus on the chart of the eighteen Christian centuries by Christ at their very outset?

 

The first was the turbid and troubled torrent of Jewish history. Its source was pointed outtheir rejection of Him- self; its course was definedTitus, Vespasian, Hadrian myriads of slaughtered and captive Jewsthe state of Jerusalem and Judea, the Saracenic conquests, the Ottoman occupation of Palestine, the dispersion of Israel in all lands and their long-continued and great tribulation, ?until? a yet future dayall these events are foretold, though summed up in a few sentences.

 

The other great stream was outlined as plainly in the parables and predictions of Christ. It includes all that is meant by the propagation of the gospel and growth of the early Church, the world-wide diffusion of Christianity, the age of martyrs, the conversion of the Roman empire and of the Gothic nations to Christianity, and the character and course of Christendom.

 

Were either of these great streams of events visible in Christ?s day or from His point of view? As well ask are the Tigris and Euphrates visible from London streets to-day! How then came they to be thus clearly predicted? Have not the streams themselves flowed steadily and persistently for ages? What long catalogues of events go to form the waters of the Jewish stream! And as to the otherthe Christendom stream why, Eusebius and Sozomen, Bede and Baronius, Gibbon and Ranke, Mosheim and Milner, Hallam and D?Aubigne, Carlyle and Froude, and a hundred other historians unite their rivulets to make but a small contribution to the flood of its mighty waters! We stand ourselves this day on the banks of the ever-widening and deepening stream. It is flowing precisely in the direction in which the Prophet of Galilee said long since it would flow, and every sign portends that it will merge into the ocean at the time indicated in His last Revelation. How came He to select these two all-important streams of events, and to anticipate so clearly and correctly the general course of each?

 

Again, how came He through His apostles to indicate the future careers and true characters of two great dissimilar organizations which should be developed in the midst of Christendom from germs already in existencea true Church, one in life and one in spirit with Himself, and a false Church, energised by Satan and seated at Rome? Out of all the countless organizations men have formed since the first century, two and only two fixed the prophetic eye and claimed anticipative mentionthe true Church, including every living Christian of every land and every age, a great Unity, though invisible as such, a body of which the risen Christ is the Head; and the Church of Rome, a vast worldly ecclesiastical system, whose relations are with the kings of the earth, and which stands opposed to Christ and to His truth. Why were these two thus selected? Have they actually had supreme importance in the world? Can more of the facts of history be proved to have depended on their existence and operation among men, than on any other causes whatsoever? As well inquire whether the light of day depends on the sun, or the waves of ocean on the winds of heaven! The history of the civilized world for the last eighteen centuries is mainly a record of the conflicting acts and influences of these two all-important unities or organizations. The one has exhibited the working of Christ, the other the working of Satan. The one has evangelized and elevated the nations; the other has intoxicated and corrupted them. The one has proclaimed and spread abroad the truth of God, the other has taught lies in hypocrisy and propagated doctrines of devils; the one Christianized the pagan world, the other paganized afresh the greater part of Christendom. We speak broadly of contrasted systems in the long run, not of individual exceptions. There have always been members of the true Church entangled in the false. God has always had His children even in Babylonas He had in Ahab?s day seven thousand hidden ones who had not bowed the knee to Baal. But as contrasted bodies, each doing its appropriate work in the world, history portrays these two even as prophecy predicted themas of super-eminent importance. Taking thus a broad comprehensive view of the course of history as a whole, can there be any question that the hand that drew these outlines was guided by a mind which beheld beforehand the events of the eighteen Christian centuries?

 

Index Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Conclusion





About Me

Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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